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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
25 August 2023
Two-year anniversary of the Bute House Agreement marked as critics label deal ‘utterly dysfunctional’

The second anniversary of the Bute House Agreement was marked by opening Greengairs East windfarm in North Lanarkshire | Alamy

Two-year anniversary of the Bute House Agreement marked as critics label deal ‘utterly dysfunctional’

The second anniversary of the Bute House Agreement between the SNP and Scottish Greens has been marked by ministers amid criticism from opposition parties.

Energy minister Neil Gray and zero carbon buildings minister Patrick Harvie marked the occasion by opening Greengairs East windfarm in North Lanarkshire.

The agreement, which focuses on a “shared commitment” to make Scotland “greener and fairer” was described as a “constructive way of working” by the ministers.  

However, opposition parties have claimed the deal is “utterly dysfunctional”, citing policies like the failed deposit return scheme and the scrapping of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) amid criticism from local communities who likened the policy to the Clearances.

The UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) warned at the end of last year in a damning report that climate ambitions were “at risk” due to a lack of progress towards key milestones, with seven of 11 legal targets missed since the 2009 Climate Change Act.

Former finance secretary Kate Forbes suggested that it should be put to SNP party members whether to continue the agreement with the Greens when the SNP meets for its annual conference in October.  

Meanwhile, former business minister Fergus Ewing described the Scottish Greens as "hard-left extremists who should never be anywhere near government".

Gray said: “The Bute House Agreement signalled our shared commitment to working together to build a greener, fairer and independent Scotland. An unstable world needs more co-operation and more constructive conversation if governments are to effectively meet the challenges they face.  

“Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine triggered an energy price crisis which caused governments around the world to consider the long-term future to ensure our energy security, affordability and sustainability. The Scottish Government, underpinned by the principles and policies of the Bute House Agreement, has set out a very clear direction on how it can help overcome these issues and capitalise on the enormous opportunities our energy transition presents while understanding that we need the UK Government to do more in areas which are reserved.”

Harvie said: “The Bute House Agreement is also a commitment to a constructive way of working, based on shared aims and the core principles of building trust and good faith. Our approach to delivering a just and fair energy transition – ensuring we work across parliament, with the sector and with communities – is a prime example of how this approach benefits Scotland.”

But Lib Dem Councillor Sanne Dijkstra Downie said: “Scotland missed its climate change targets before the Greens were in government and has carried on missing them since they joined. The deposit return scheme collapsed on the watch of a Green minister, while sewage dumped in Scottish rivers rose by almost a third last year.

"Green MSPs have lined up to defend policies that even some SNP backbenchers consider beyond the pale.

"The Bute House Agreement is utterly dysfunctional. If we are serious about tackling the climate emergency, we need both the UK and the Scottish governments to work together.”  

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Read the most recent article written by Ruaraidh Gilmour - Scotland's circular economy: What goes around comes around.

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