Campaigners urge ministers to ensure National Investment Bank boosts low carbon infrastructure
Environmental campaigners have welcomed plans to provide £340m in capital funding for the National Investment Bank, while urging ministers to ensure it helps develop Scotland’s low carbon infrastructure.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay yesterday announced the funding, for initial capitalisation of the bank in 2019-21, as part of a ‘growth package’ within the draft Scottish Government budget.
The budget also included plans to invest £60m in low carbon energy infrastructure, including for electric vehicles, through the Low Carbon Innovation Fund.
Mackay announced a further £1.2bn for transport, expected to be spent on roads and electrification of the rail network.
But while Mackay described the measures as part of “a growth package for Scotland that is good for Scottish businesses, good for investment, good for taxpayers and good for Scotland’s future”, Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns Mary Church urged the finance secretary to ensure the bank focuses investment on tackling inequality and moving towards a low carbon economy.
She said: “It’s encouraging to see a timescale and capital commitment for the Scottish National Investment Bank laid down in this budget. The bank must be given a remit that enables it to have a real impact in tackling inequality and building the zero carbon economy, investing in the transformation of our transport, heating, housing and electricity.
“Going forward the Scottish National Investment Bank should work closely with the recently announced Just Transition Commission and government-owned energy company to deliver a joined up economic strategy that puts tackling climate change at its heart.
"Future budgets must be strictly aligned to Government plans to deliver on our climate change targets, and a just transition to a zero carbon economy. This should be enshrined in the new Climate Change Bill."
Announcing the draft budget, Mackay said: “We are boosting levels of innovation, with a 70 per cent increase in investment in research and development, support for new low carbon technologies, a new £150 million Building Scotland Fund and support for Scotland’s National Manufacturing Institute.
“And our Enterprise and Skills network will receive a record £2.4 billion to invest in supporting Scotland’s economy with additional funding to establish an economic agency for the South of Scotland.
“Our £4 billion commitment to new infrastructure investment next year will support 50,000 new homes, new roads and railways, electric vehicles and the delivery of 100 per cent superfast broadband to every corner of Scotland.
“And to support future investment in Scotland’s economy we will set aside £340 million in future years to capitalise a new Scottish National Investment Bank.
“This budget delivers a growth package for Scotland that is a good for Scottish businesses, good for investment, good for taxpayers and good for Scotland’s future.”