A Holyrood Committee has outlined its findings on the budget allocated to the environment, which includes combatting climate change and investing in world-class research.
In a letter to Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee reveals some concerns on the Draft Budget for 2018/19.
Some of the key findings include…
- While the Committee welcomes the overall increase in spending on combatting climate change – which has risen from £463.7 million to £558.1 million – it has concerns about the reduction in certain budgets lines and the impact of this in meeting emissions targets.
- It highlights that the budget for Scotland’s environment, and for relevant agencies and research, has been declining for a number of years. The Committee is concerned that the impact of this is becoming apparent and national indicators are “declining or at best flat-lining”.
- The finance received from Europe for environmental objectives is considerable and there is no certainty as to what will replace this post Brexit. The Committee is “gravely concerned” by this and recommends the Scottish Government work closely with agencies and partners and the UK Government to identify possible replacement funding streams as a matter of extreme urgency.
- There could be more innovative thinking on preventative spend and the wider benefits of environmental expenditure. For example, on encouraging engagement with nature and on improving air quality, both of which have significant health benefits.
- The Committee also believes that a review of the parliamentary processes for considering the financial allocations to meet climate change objectives and the engagement of relevant committees is now required.
Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform 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%.
“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.”