Scottish Budget announcement (2024-25): implications for nature

Some positive news for Environmental Services under Transport, Net Zero & Just Transition following the announcement of the Scottish Budget on Tuesday the 19th of December: the funding cuts that NatureScot had been expecting, and which environmental NGOs had been warning against, have not appeared. Both NatureScot and SEPA will see a proposed increase in budget allocation in the 2024-2025 budget. Furthermore, more money is being allocated to Nature Restoration: £29.2 million for 2024-25, versus £27.8 million for 2023-24.

Conversely, under Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, funding cuts to Scottish Forestry (£103.7m to £70.1m) have been proposed. Also, funding for woodland creation schemes is to be cut by over 41% next year, despite Scottish Forestry approving a record number in 2023, and in contrast to the encouraging comments made by the Rural Affairs Secretary, Mairi Gougeon, at the recent Forestry Summit this month. This will present a challenge to the ambitious Scottish Government planting target of 18,000 ha per annum of new woodland creation (13,111 ha of new woodland creation schemes were approved in 2023). There is also a 17% cut to Scotland’s Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) which will make it more challenging for farmers to receive support for delivering for nature and climate.

The full budget can be seen here.