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Worries Over Cuts to Funding for the Environment

“The Committee remains particularly concerned about the long-term impact of the decline in the research budget and the decline in the budget of SNH and Marine Scotland over recent years, and the impact of this on delivering key environmental,  economic and health outcomes. “


Scottish Parliament FGScotland’s politicians are concerned about  how leaving the EU will affect funding for the environment.

The Scottish Parliament committee, Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR), which contains MSPS of all political parties, has written a letter to Derek Mackay ,Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution in the Scottish Government. The letter is to alert Derek Mackay to their concerns ahead of his Scottish Budget.

This comes at a time when the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that:

“There is alarming evidence that important tipping points, leading to irreversible  changes in major ecosystems and the planetary climate system, may already have been reached or passed. Ecosystems as diverse as the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic tundra, may be approaching thresholds of dramatic change through warming and drying. Mountain glaciers are in alarming retreat and the downstream effects of reduced water supply in the driest months will have repercussions that transcend generations.”

The ECCLR is concerned at the decline in funding from  the Scottish Government for the environment.

“The Committee remains particularly concerned about the long-term impact of the decline in the research budget and the decline in the budget of SNH and Marine Scotland over recent years, and the impact of this on delivering key environmental,  economic and health outcomes. “

Reminding Derek Mackay of the loss of funding with Brexit the Committee has asked him for an update in the progress of talks with the UK Government to ensure EU funding is replaced.

The letter points out the considerable benefits to health and wellbeing of spending money on improving the environment and the knock on savings for NHS Scotland as a result.

” The Committee recommends the Scottish Government review existing research on the health benefits of environmental spend, and if necessary, commission research to underpin future spending decisions. The Committee also recommends the Scottish Government consider what more can be done to extend support programmes delivering health and wellbeing benefits.”

The concerns over leaving the EU are not limited to a loss of funding but includes the environmental protection measures overseen by the European Commission and the European Court of Justice.

Further detail was requested on the effect of budget cuts on  emission reduction targets and climate change strategies in relation to: Agriculture, Peatland Restoration, Renewable Energy, the Sustainable Action Fund and Research.

“withdrawal from the EU will greatly increase the risk to funding that can be levered from European research programmes and knowledge exchange from participation in cross-country collaborations and create difficulty in attracting and retaining international scientists as a result of the uncertainties.”

Cuts to SNH and Marine Scotland

Funding to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) continues to be cut and the ECCLR is worried that this has now affected it to such a degree that it will struggle to deliver what is expected of it. This includes the loss of funding from the EU said to amount to £100million over a 5/6 year period for SNH projects.

Marine Scotland too has had successive cuts to its budget which may compromise the “overall amount of monitoring and surveillance resource available.”

“the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) provides Scotland with approximately  £96million over the current Programme period, which includes £30million of Marine Scotland’s expenditure on science, data and compliance. Marine Scotland indicated there is no assurance that the £30million will be replaced by domestic funding. “

Gillian Martin MSP, Convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, said:

environment“Our Committee is concerned that the budget for the environment, climate change, land reform, research and relevant agencies has been declining in real terms for a number of years now.

“These cuts to the environment budget become particularly apparent when looking at Scotland’s environmental performance and goals. If we are to reach our ambitions we need the funding to match.

“We’re all becoming more aware of the very real damage caused by climate change, carbon emissions and the staggering amount of plastics floating in our seas. Now is not the time to drawback from vital investment in these areas – particularly when there is still such uncertainty on Brexit and what will replace the substantial amount of EU funding Scotland currently gets.”

Reporter: Fiona Grahame


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