3 May 2013
Scottish Greens say a report by the chief engineer of the Forth Road Bridge, showing that the anchorages of the structure are “in good condition with no real evidence of corrosion“, proves that the SNP, supported by Labour, Libdems and Tories, were reckless to blow over a billion pounds on an additional crossing.
The Scottish Greens were the only party that argued in favour of repairing the existing bridge as this would have saved millions and not required its closure.
A report in February of this year showed that dehumidification of the main cables has worked.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and transport spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:
“It is now crystal clear that over a billion pounds of public funds were squandered on an ego-trip for ministers, with other parties simply following the herd. The latest findings prove how scandalous it was to plough ahead with the additional crossing without knowing whether there was actually a problem that needed fixed.
“Back in February we challenged the First Minister to explain what would prevent future governments going back on his pledge that the existing road bridge would only be used for buses and bikes but he failed to do so. The government should accept its reasoning was flawed and explain how it intends to prevent such situations from happening again.”
30 April 2013
Scottish Greens are warning SNP ministers to be careful that proposed new national planning guidelines don’t risk Scotland’s important carbon reduction and renewable energy targets.
Ministers want to extend the distance between wind farms and communities, and prevent wind farms being built in National Parks and National Scenic Areas.
Proposals also include unproven carbon capture and storage technology, environmentally-damaging airport expansion and fossil fuel generation at Cockenzie and Longannet.
Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:
“Ministers are right to resist calls from the anti-wind lobby to legislate for a blanket ban on turbines but it is equally important we don’t compromise our ability to meet our carbon reduction and renewable energy targets. Steering developments away from important landscapes and habitats must be balanced against the need for a transition to a sustainable society. The Trump debacle shows ministers can ignore the need for balance when it suits them.
“We agree with the idea that local authorities should be able to consider the impacts on communities and the environment during applications for coal-bed methane and fracking, and we hope the language around restoring coal sites is met with action. But SNP ministers have a long record of failure to recognise the need to move away from fossil fuels.”
28 April 2013
Scottish Greens are condemning the Scottish Government for attempting to delay a ban on the use of pesticides that have been linked with the decline of pollinating insects vital to food production.
SNP Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead is calling for the UK Government to resist implementing a ban due to be agreed by Europe tomorrow (Mon 29 Apr) for two years.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, has previously written to Mr Lochhead urging him to use his devolved powers to implement a ban. Alison succeeded in getting the rural affairs committee of the parliament to take evidence on the problem, and has lodged parliamentary motions calling for a moratorium on the pesticides in question.
“This is appalling hypocrisy from Scotland’s environment minister. He admits the use of these pesticides only accounts for a minuscule proportion of what’s used on our crops but instead of genuine precaution he’s asking for a further delay.
“This is a devolved issue. The Scottish Government doesn’t have to go along with the increasingly isolated UK position.
“The Cabinet Secretary doesn’t understand what the precautionary principle is or he wouldn’t suggest two years of inaction. He should be demanding convincing scientific evidence that pollinator populations aren’t negatively impacted by the use of neonicotinoids, and meantime he should support the call from the Environmental Audit Committee and the European Commission.
“The Scottish Government is patronising us, trying to put a gloss on the fact it is gambling with our food supplies. Yet again we see SNP ministers care about big business more than the long-term health of our environment.
“We need a moratorium on the use of these pesticides as soon as possible.”
24 April 2013
Responding to a report showing there are more women out of work in the UK than at any time since 1988, Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, today (24 Apr) renewed her call for action.
The report, by the Fawcett Society, describes the UK government’s jobs plan as low-wage and insecure, with 60 per cent of all jobs since 2010 going to men. In that time women’s unemployment has risen by twelve per cent to a 25-year-high of over one million, while men’s unemployment has fallen by seven per cent.
“This is a wake up call for both the Westminster and Scottish governments. It’s yet further proof the Coalition’s austerity agenda is adding to our unequal society, and it should prompt SNP ministers to think carefully about their efforts.
“For example, more than 98 per cent of engineering, plumbing and construction apprentices are young men, whereas less secure, lower-paid roles in hairdressing, childcare and social care tend to be taken up by young women. The Scottish Government needs to act to ensure equality of opportunity.
“The economy committee has carried out an inquiry into underemployment and there has been a big focus in parliament on youth employment – both important areas. But it’s clear we also need to see an action plan for improving the prospects for women.”
24 April 2013
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and co-convener of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on cycling, says today’s Westminster report on the benefits of investing in cycling should prompt Scottish ministers to shift up a gear.
The report by MPs and peers calls for a cultural shift, a big increase in investment and proposes a target of 25 per cent of journeys made by bike by 2050.
“This report echoes what many of us in Scotland have been calling for in recent years. The response from the Scottish Government to date has been agonisingly slow and it’s hard to see how it will meet its own target of ten per cent of journeys by bike in the next six and a half years when levels remain around one per cent.
“The proposals from the all-party group are sensible and achievable, and backed by everyone from medics to the AA. We cannot afford not to invest in cycling as it benefits our economy, our health and our environment, and it’s an area where Scotland could show real leadership.
“In just a few weeks’ time thousands of Scots will pedal on parliament and I would urge Scottish ministers not to use warm words or wave copies of refreshed action plans. We want properly-funded actions with concrete timescales, otherwise it will be hard not to conclude that Scotland is being left in the slow lane.”
23 April 2013
Scottish Greens are accusing UK Chancellor George Osborne and SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney of waging a phoney war, with their suggestions that a Sterling zone is either impossible or inevitable.
Scottish Greens have not ruled out supporting a Sterling zone as a short term transitional arrangement, but have urged the Scottish Government to keep an open mind about moving towards an independent currency. The Scottish Government’s currency paper, published today, endorses the idea of a Sterling zone but agrees the need for flexibility should circumstances change.
Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:
“George Osborne is more interested in scaring people ahead of the referendum than an honest assessment of the options after it. In the event of a Yes vote both sides would need to recognise the mandate given by the people, and settle down to the real negotiations. Scotland’s hand in those negotiations would be strengthened if we did the groundwork on our own currency so we keep it as a realistic medium-term option.
“Osborne’s economic credibility is in tatters and now he’s attempting to wage a phoney war by suggesting we’re doomed unless we stick with the existing arrangements – arrangements which fail to reflect our needs and aspirations. If Scotland votes for full control of our own affairs it is reasonable to expect our economic priorities to diverge from the rest of the UK, so we would be wise to keep our currency options open.”