The Scottish Government has published its programme for government, available here. Key points:
- Introduce a Natural Environment Bill, putting in place key legislative changes and statutory targets to restore and protect nature. Invest £500 million in our natural economy, including the expansion of the Nature Restoration Fund, creating local nature networks and increased forestry and peatland. A new Biodiversity Strategy will be published within a year of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15), followed by a 5-year delivery plan, which will help guide the way we use and manage land and our approach to protecting habitats and ecosystems.
- Deliver a step change in marine protection, with new measures to make Scotland an international leader, including beginning this year the process of designating 10% of our seas as highly protected.
- Designate at least one new National Park by the end of this Parliament, provided relevant legal conditions can be met.
- Ensure that every Local Authority area will have a Nature Network of new, locally driven projects which aim to improve ecological connectivity across Scotland.
- Green Jobs Fund. Invest in a just transition to a low-carbon economy, for people and businesses, including a £500 million Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray and a £100 million Green Jobs Fund. In 2021, the first payments will be made from the Green Jobs Fund, and will implement a skills guarantee, helping workers in carbon‑intensive sectors to upskill, reskill, and transition to the green jobs of the future.
- Deliver at least three Carbon Neutral Islands by 2040, creating jobs, protecting our island environments from climate change, and contributing to the 2045 net zero commitment.
Jason Reeves, CIEEM Head of Policy, says
We welcome the commitment of £500 million for nature restoration and the implementation of nature targets. It will be crucial that this funding is delivered in a co-ordinated and transformational way across Scotland with matched funding arising from other sources. The proposed Biodiversity Strategy and Natural Environment Bill must be brought out as soon as possible with clear targets and actions to reverse ecological decline and achieve net zero. In addition, the commitment to designate 10% of our seas as highly protected is very welcome. As we embark on the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, the need to tackle the joint climate and nature crises is urgent. Two major UN reports (from IPCC and IPBES) have very clearly stated the need for immediate and effective action to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C and to restore biodiversity.
A new Biodiversity Strategy will be published within a year of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in October 2021, followed by a 5-year delivery plan, which will help guide the way we use and manage land and our approach to protecting habitats and ecosystems. Following this, we will aim to introduce a Natural Environment Bill in Year 3 of this Parliament, to:
- Put in place key legislative changes to restore and protect nature, including, but not restricted to, targets for nature restoration that cover land and sea, and an effective, statutory, target‑setting monitoring, enforcing and reporting framework.
- Those targets will be based on an overarching goal of preventing any further extinctions of wildlife and halting declines by 2030 and making significant progress in restoring Scotland’s natural environment by 2045, and will include outcome targets that accommodate species abundance, distribution and extinction risk, and habitat quality and extent.
- Cover key actions to deliver our targets, including our agreement to protect 30% of Scotland’s land and seas by 2030, and highly protect 10%.
- We will also ensure a review of environmental justice, and the case for an environmental court, is undertaken during this parliamentary session – commencing by spring 2023.
Our natural and marine economy will be vital to securing a net zero future – with nature-based solutions accounting for around 30% of the emissions reductions needed – but in turn we must ensure it is protected and enhanced.
Peatlands Provide £22 million for the restoration of degraded peatlands in 2021‑22 as part of our £250 million commitment to restore 250,000 hectares by 2030. We will help crofting communities play a role through restoration of common grazing land, and we will take forward work to develop and consult on a ban on the sale of peat related gardening products as part of our commitment to phase out the use of peat in horticulture.
Tree planting – Provide £150 million to accelerate progress towards our commitment for 18,000 hectares of tree planting a year by 2024. Of this £100 million to increase forestry planting, £30 million to expand Scotland’s national forests and land, and £20 million to increase nursery stocks. Within the Government’s first 100 days we have met our target of 12,000 hectares of woodland creation in 2020‑21, and will accelerate towards 18,000 hectares a year by 2024‑25, and increase the annual native woodland creation target to 4,000 hectares. Support the restoration and expansion of Scotland’s rainforests, and establish a National Register of Ancient Woodlands, working with owners and agencies to maintain and protect them. We will also explore a number of mechanisms to ensure we create and restore woodlands, including increasing easily accessible, sustainably managed woodlands, in urban or peri‑urban areas; pilot landscape‑scale natural regeneration projects; and, support public sector bodies to increase tree cover on land they own and manage, including exploring if further legislative changes are required to strengthen such duties on public bodies. We will ensure funding within a post‑CAP system is ring‑fenced for tree planting, orchard creation, and woodland regeneration, as well as support for the development of rural businesses linked with forestry.
Regional Land Use Partnerships
Regional Land Use Partnerships pilots have been established during 2021 across five areas of Scotland. If the pilots can demonstrate that they meet expectations relating to national outcomes on the environment and climate change, and show that they have taken a democratic, local approach, we will develop plans for a second phase from 2023 building on learning from the five pilots. In areas where Regional Land Use Partnerships have been established, we will launch a call for action to ensure broad membership and participation and commit to learning from the partnerships to optimise our approach going forwards.
Ensure that every Local Authority area will have a Nature Network of new, locally driven projects which aim to improve ecological connectivity across Scotland.
A Circular Economy for a Zero‑Waste Nation
We will accelerate progress to meet our ambitious waste reduction, recycling and climate change targets. This year, as well as making our first investments from the £70 million Recycling Improvement Fund, we will work in collaboration with industry, local government and environmental groups to develop a route map to achieving our targets to 2025 and beyond, and consider the role of incineration and fiscal incentives, such as a waste tax. We will also explore the use of Scotland’s devolved tax powers over Landfill Tax to ensure they are consistent with our emissions reduction targets. We will bring forward a Circular Economy Bill, later in this parliamentary session, helping facilitate the development of an economy which reduces demand for raw materials, designs products to last as long as possible and encourages reuse, repair and recycling.