Cuts to environmental spending have led to green indicators “declining or at best flat-lining”, MSPs warn

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 24 January 2018 in News

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee welcomed a rise in spending on climate change but suggested budget cuts elsewhere are beginning to be felt

Year-on-year cuts to environmental spending have led to green indicators “declining or at best flat-lining”, MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee have warned.

Responding to Scottish Government’s 2018/19 draft budget plans, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee welcomed a rise in spending on climate change, up from £463.7m to £558.1m, but suggested the effect of cuts to the budget for Scotland’s environment, and for relevant agencies and research, are beginning to be felt.

Writing to the Finance and Constitution Committee, the MSP also said they were “gravely concerned” over the impact of losing support from the EU for environmental objectives after Brexit, while recommending ministers explore options for replacement funding streams as a matter of “extreme urgency”.

Committee convener Graeme Dey MSP said: “Our committee is pleased to see an increase in overall spend on combatting climate change, which has now gone up by 20 per cent.

“But, after close examination and evidence sessions with relevant agencies and stakeholders, we have outlined concerns with how this pot of money is allocated.

“One of the committee's concerns is the declining budget for environmental research and agencies. At a time where, globally, climate change and its consequences is seen as one of the greatest challenges and threats, it’s crucial that Scotland continues to take action and lead from the front, including around research, on these very real issues.

“There also seems to be room for more innovative thinking on the benefits that spending on one area may have another, and there could be a financial drawdown to reflect this. An example of this might be the impact that enjoying nature and the outdoors can have on health.”

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