Wed 20 Jan, 2010

Following commitments given by Scottish Ministers on marine renewables and home insulation, the Green MSPs today voted not to block the Budget at Stage 1, and to seek agreement with Ministers on further improvements in these areas ahead of the final vote a fortnight today.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"The draft Budget Ministers put before Parliament this month did not provide the boost to the green economy and the cuts to household bills we have argued for. In particular, it read as though the Climate Change Act had never been passed, but today we have seen a welcome willingness by the SNP to move in the right direction.

"In particular, we have urged Ministers to consider a new fund to support marine renewables, and today the Cabinet Secretary has pledged £10m towards this objective. This is a significant step in the right direction. With the grid upgrades approved earlier this year, the priority now is to help Scottish companies get wave and tidal power devices into the water. We have a chance to claim global leadership in these crucial industries, and this is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.

"Ministers haven't been ready to adopt the ambition of Green plans on energy efficiency, which would have insulated every home in Scotland over ten years, tackling fuel poverty and rising fuel costs, reducing pollution and waste, and boosting jobs. They continue to rely on failed New Labour-style means tests, an approach they have rightly rejected with school meals and prescription charges. It will be vital to change this mindset and cut bureaucracy, just as it will be to move faster and get the job done more quickly. These will be our objectives in this area over the next two weeks, and John Swinney has said he is prepared to consider them both.

"Ministers have the opportunity now both to improve their Budget and support Scottish households and low carbon businesses. Further discussions on both these issues will be required before Stage 3, but I remain cautiously optimistic that Ministers are listening and that they understand the issues."

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