09 February 2021

S5M-24078 Green Recovery Inquiry

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Lewis Macdonald): The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-24078, in the name of Gillian Martin, on behalf of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, on its green recovery inquiry.

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Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

That was a brave speech for Peter Chapman from the Tory party to make on fishing, when many fishing companies around our rural communities are going out of business as a result of Tory actions. However, I will focus on other matters.

I thank the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee’s clerks and advisers for their considerable input into the report that is before Parliament.

There are a number of things in the report that it is important to focus on. The committee discussed conditionality. As the Government and our enterprise agencies support companies, we must tie into that support more conditionality that relates to our green agenda and creating a green economy for the long term.

There are investment opportunities. The Scottish National Investment Bank is a new vehicle that will help and will have such matters as part of its important priorities. We also need wider state investment and private capital. Much of the private capital that will support the green economy will come in because of the economic returns. That is one thing that we must tell people about.

Today, we have heavy snow in the north of Banffshire. We were able to get out for our Covid jabs—thank you very much to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport—but two deliveries turned away because the vehicles could not reach us.

I can see that we have snow on our roof. Why do we have snow on our roof? Because we took our insulation in the loft up from 200mm to 600mm—I thank the Government for paying for that—which means that there is no heat going up to melt the snow on our roof. Not all the houses that we passed on the way down to Macduff were similarly insulated.

Some of the actions that we need to take are very local actions—very simple, straightforward and not high-tech—but they give huge benefits. Of course, the benefit to us of taking that action was a halving of the cost of heating our house. Many of the good things that individuals can do have benefits. If we drive fewer miles, we spend less money. If we walk, we are healthier and we spend less money on being unhealthy. If we cycle, that is a good way to travel and, again, it promotes a healthy agenda for each and every one of us.

The Covid crisis has illustrated how flexible, responsive and effective Government and the civil servants who work in the Government can be when faced with a challenge. Relieved of some of the perhaps narrow constraints and told to just get on with it, there has been a magnificent response right across the public sector—not simply in the Scottish Government but in parts of the UK Government and, more fundamentally, in local government, which is important because many of the decisions that will make a difference in this agenda will have to be made locally, with regard to local needs and requirements. The needs in the centre of Glasgow are fundamentally different from the needs of rural communities such as those in my constituency and others across Scotland and those in more remote areas that have only a few houses and limited roads.

We are making the kind of progress that we need to make. The agenda is now a shared one across Parliament, and I commend this report from our committee to Parliament.


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