Commenting on the Draft Scottish Budget 2012-13 published today (21 September 2011), Stan Blackley, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

On Transport:

“While we welcome the funding and delivery of major public transport projects, such as the Edinburgh to Glasgow rail improvements, the Borders Railway and the City of Edinburgh tram project, it is depressing to see spending on public transport actually fall this year, and the Scottish Government increase its focus and spending on building more and bigger roads instead.

“The development of low carbon vehicle technologies and walking and cycling measures through the future transport fund could be a small step in the right direction. However, at a time when Scotland’s citizens are growing ever more unfit, and our cities are choked with traffic-related air pollution, this risks being undermined by the huge drain of resources being poured into an expensive road building programme.

“On the whole, the Scottish Government’s transport policies just don’t add up, and SNP Ministers appear to remain addicted to stretching swathes of tarmac across the country, instead of delivering a 21st century transport system to benefit everyone.”

On Energy Efficiency and Fuel Poverty:

“While we welcome the small increase in funding for energy efficiency and fuel poverty measures, this follows cuts from the same budgets last year, and doesn’t reflect the ambition required to effectively reduce energy costs, address fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions as planned. A fully funded, comprehensive, free and universal home insulation scheme would do all of these things while increasing public health, creating jobs, boosting manufacturing and supporting the economy. Yet again, Scottish Ministers have missed an open goal.”

On Access to Justice:

“The Scottish Government’s intention to maintain and improve access to justice is very welcome, as long as it includes access to environmental justice, something that the First Minister has attacked in recent weeks. We must allow the many Scottish communities who have badly thought out or environmentally damaging developments dumped on their doorsteps to challenge them, particularly when due process has not been followed.

“We look forward to seeing more detail on the planned reforms to Legal Aid. The cost of going to court should not serve as a disincentive for those people who would wish to challenge poor planning decisions or poor process, and any changes made that will reduce costs should be made for both criminal and civil cases.”

On Procurement:

“The public sector in Scotland can, through its procurement policy, exert a significant positive influence, not just through better use of purchasing power, but through ethical, local and sustainable sourcing, and through taking into account the environmental and social impacts of their procurement policies. We welcome the decision by Scottish Ministers to lobby for changes to the European Commissions procurement rules to allow public bodies to consider local economic impact in their contract award decisions.”

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
 t: 0131 243 2719

Notes to Editors

1. Scottish Spending Review 2011 and Draft Budget 2012-13
www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/358356/0121130.pdf

2. Friends of the Earth Scotland is
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk