Scottish government criticised for failure in its “climate and wildlife policies”

The Guardian reports, 28th October 2013: “Alex Salmond’s government is failing to live up to many of its ambitious promises on climate change and protecting Scotland’s natural heritage, a study has concluded. The report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) said that the Scottish government’s efforts to set new standards on climate and protecting sea life and wildlife have been repeatedly undermined by lack of funding, poor implementation and fears of vested economic interests.

Oystercatchers on rocks by sea at the shoreline Sutherland, Scotland

The report criticises the Scottish government’s efforts to set new standards on climate, protecting sea life and Scottish wildlife.
Photograph: Rachel Husband/Alamy

It found that Scottish funding for nature conservation by farmers is the second lowest in the European Union, its world-leading climate target is being undermined by weak action on housing and transport, and its ambitions to have the UK’s strongest marine protection zones have been diluted to protect the fishing and energy industries.

The study, commissioned by RSPB Scotland, WWF Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, concludes that Scotland’s ministers are sabotaging efforts to be the best in Europe on the environment.

Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, said the report had recognised the Scottish National party’s willingness to be ambitious but found large gaps between its rhetoric and actions. The study “identifies major difficulties or complete failures in delivery caused by poor decisions, mixed messages or the lack of or misdirection of resources,” Housden said. “Sometimes it seems the government has flinched from taking the tough decisions.”

The RSPB has been scathing on the marine protection plans, which fail to include Scottish seabird populations, some of the most important and threatened in Europe. The IEEP said ministers had dropped some special sites because of pressure from the fisheries and energy industries, and chosen less valuable places instead.

The report stated: “Political will to pursue environmental priorities embodied in regulation is not always sustained in the face of economic interests.”

Source: The Guardian, 28th October 2013. For the full text, see http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/28/scottish-government-failing-climate-wildlife

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