Conservation: December 2008 Archives

An actual scandal.

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trumpdogagain.jpgWhen the Trump proposal was approved, part of the deal was that it would include affordable houses for local people. This was crucial to the PR, and the local authority even gave him £5m worth of land to build them on. As the Scotsman put it:

"Under current Aberdeenshire Council policy, developers are asked to provide housing for low-income families in return for being granted permission to work on major developments."

Now the planned homes, the affordable and the presumably unaffordable, have all been put on hold, or potentially even scrapped. If the overall planning permission is really dependent on the housing, as local policy demands, has that permission been withdrawn? Fat chance. If the land given was just for this purpose, has it been given back? Unlikely, to say the least. Did hard-up Aberdeenshire even put any terms on that shameless bung? I doubt it.

The Trump plan was always for hotels, chalets and golf only: the homes were just a sweetener, something to help the SSSI-destroying medicine go down, and they were only needed until formal permission was granted less than two weeks ago. The period between Christmas and New Year is also a great time to sneak out one's bad news and avoid Parliamentary criticism.

The only consolation is that the whole thing may now unravel, and just perhaps we could be free of his half bullying, half bribing approach to development. Scotland deserves better.

The Scottish Climate Change Bill.

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floodedcars.jpgWell, it's not the Bill I feared, but nor is it the Bill we need. Some areas are better than I expected, others worse, but Parliament has the structure it needs in order to improve the final legislation. 

I'm in a hurry, so all I'll add here are our six recommendations:

i. Accountability. The Bill currently contains no consequences for Ministers who miss their targets. Given that they are responsible for their success or failure, Ministers need to know what will happen if they fail.

ii. Urgency. The current proposal for annual targets suggests a very relaxed start, with very low reductions in emissions until 2020. Earlier shifts will make the biggest difference to Scotland's overall contribution to climate change and provide better opportunities to gain the competitive advantages a low carbon economy will bring. A stronger start is therefore needed. 

iii. Domestic action. The draft Bill contains no limit set on the proportion of Scotland's emissions reductions which can be "bought in" through international credits. It is vital that all or almost all of these reductions are actually achieved here in Scotland. Support for emissions reductions in developing countries is vitally important, but it not a substitute for putting our own house in order.

iv. Scientific independence. The Bill proposes to use the UK Climate Change Committee to provide scientific advice, and to allow Ministers to create a Scottish version if they see fit. However, the Scottish Committee would, if the Bill is unamended, be appointed by Scottish Ministers, not Parliament, which reduces its independence and credibility, not least because Ministers do not always have a working majority in Parliament.

v. Scale. The Bill proposes a long term 2050 target of 80% reductions in Scotland's emissions, but the evidence from the internationally-respected Tyndall Centre and others is that a 90% reduction will be required over this same period.

vi. Policy shift. The Scottish Government's policies as currently designed will aggravate climate change, especially in the areas of transport, energy and demand reduction. Ministers cannot promote airport expansion and a massive road-building programme and simultaneously deliver a credible policy on climate change. The Bill does move towards discussion of the implications for each sector of the economy, but does not mandate sector by sector targets and an action plan to deliver them.

Anything else you'd add? 

And what marks would you give the SNP? I give it a B+, could try harder. It's certainly better than the B- I'd expected.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Conservation category from December 2008.

Conservation: October 2008 is the previous archive.

Conservation: March 2009 is the next archive.