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ONE YEAR ON: COALITION FAILS TO DELIVER ON KEY PARTNERSHIP PLEDGES

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The Scottish Executive has failed to deliver on key commitments in the ...
The Scottish Executive has failed to deliver on key commitments in the

Partnership Agreement required for a smart, sustainable Scotland, Greens

have said. Instead the gulf between rhetoric and reality is increasing and

short-term gains are being pursued instead of properly greening the economy,

investing in public transport, tackling climate change and delivering on

environmental justice.

As Jim Wallace and Jack McConnell today set out what they claim to have

achieved in the year since A Partnership for a Better Scotland was launched,

Greens point out contradictions and lack of delivery on key pledges.

Robin Harper, Green parliamentary leader, said: 'The executive needs to

embrace a vision of a sustainable Scotland - but the way it is heading,

Scotland faces a future with more motorways and traffic congestion, more

nuclear power stations, incinerators and a landscape of GM crops. The

difference between warm words and real action is at times, quite staggering.

'The farce over adding GM maize to the UK seed list, the pressing ahead with

the M74 motorway instead of tackling traffic growth and the shame of yet

another dump at Greengairs say it all.'

The Greens welcome some changes such as a new Nature Conservation Bill, but

say that these are small moves in the right direction compared to the

overall picture of failure. (1)

Robin Harper also pointed to recent independent reports on the economy,

education and sustainable development which showed the executive falling

behind the rest of the UK. (2)

'We will continue to monitor the executive's progress on their limited

pledges on sustainable development and the environment - to act as the

conscience of the Parliament - and publicly put pressure on the government

until tokenism and sticking plaster solutions are replaced with genuine

efforts to forge a smart, sustainable Scotland,' concluded Harper.

Notes

(1) Failures and contradictions

Climate change

The Partnership agreement makes a commitment to reach a target of 40% of

electricity generation to be from renewable sources by 2020 in order to

address climate change - yet the executive has dedicated up to£1bn to

build five miles of the M74 denying resources to public transport and

increasing traffic and climate emissions. Despite a pledge to invest 70%

transport cash into public transport by 2006, road spending still makes up

more than 50% of the budget.

Environmental justice

The residents of Greengairs have experienced Jack McConnell's stinging lack

of sincerity when it comes to environmental justice. Two years ago, he

launched his 'environmental justice' policy there - but ministers recently

approved a plan for a gigantic new waste dump, bringing the number of

landfill sites and open cast mines surrounding the community to nine. The

villages of Greengairs and Wattston are already home to Europe's biggest

landfill and Scotland's biggest opencast coal mine. Greens advocate a policy

of zero waste to drastically reduce the volume of waste going to landfills

and incinerators.

Mr Harper said: 'In five years the executive has achieved an increase of 3%

in recycling household waste - their own target demands that they add

another 16% in the next two years. Under-funded, years late and still to be

implemented, the waste strategy is a deep embarrassment to the government

that is big on promises and short on commitment.'

Food and Health

The executive's recent cave-in on GM maize highlights the lack of political

will to safeguard public health and Scottish agriculture.

We have commitments to local markets, organics and healthy eating, yet GM

would contaminate and threaten these positive commitments. The Greens' GM

Liability Bill - making biotech companies directly liable for contamination

of conventional crops - would in effect make Scotland GM-free as cultivation

would be commercial ly unviable. The executive's vague proposals on a

voluntary ban and insurance schemes are very poor responses.

(2) Lagging behind on education and the economy

The Economy

A Sustainable Development Commission report earlier this month (see LGCnet)

said that far more effort needs to be made to differentiate between sustainable

growth that generates wealth and social benefits without damaging the

environment and unsustainable growth that damages people's real quality of life.

The report made 20 recommendations for improvements with over half within the

remit of the Scottish Executive.

Robin Harper has also placed a motion in the parliament on this report.

S2M-1162 Robin Harper: Sustainable Development Commission Report - That the

Parliament welcomes the report by the UK Sustainable Development Commission,

Shows promise - But must try harder; agrees with the commission's criticism

of government's fundamental belief that economic growth should be the

driving force behind all policy decisions; agrees that far more effort needs

to be made to differentiate between sustainable growth that generates wealth

and social benefits without damaging the environment and unsustainable

growth that damages people's real quality of life; notes that, of the twenty

specific challenges for government laid down by the Commission, more than

half fall within the power of the Scottish Executive; notes that challenge 9

of the report calls specifically on devolved administrations to 'turn the

initial strategies for sustainability that they have formulated into central

and effective drivers for change over the next five years', and calls on the

Executive to take up that challenge and for the Sub-Committee on a

Sustainable Scotland to publish a response that addresses the other

challenges that fall within its powers.

Education for Sustainable Development

The Pa rtnership Agreement obliged the government to 'put environmental

concerns at the heart of public policy' and to 'emphasise citizenship,

community involvement and environmental education throughoutthe school

years'.

Arrested Development, a WWF Scotland report released earlier this month,

emphasised a marked lack of direction and planning from the executive.

No-one has been allocated the task of co-ordinating and leading on ESD,

indeed, sustainability barely features in any aspect of schooling.

More information is available here.

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