Chapter 16 Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) portfolio is responsible for protecting and enhancing Scotland's environment, responding to the challenges of climate change, driving forward land reform and investing in policy-relevant research. A significant part of this portfolio's budget goes towards funding public bodies and other organisations that invest in our natural resources, manage our land and seas, or deliver other priority work. The pressing demands for this portfolio are reducing emissions; developing a low carbon economy; improving the way that land is owned, used and managed; managing the marine environment; investing in Scottish Water; reducing waste and tackling flood risk.
Key Inequalities of Outcome
This portfolio faces a number of equalities challenges. We know that certain groups are more vulnerable to the effects of poor air quality than others and that the impacts of climate change - such as flooding - are not felt equally across Scotland. We are also aware that green spaces can help people live active lives and have a positive impact on mental health, yet some people are less likely to visit the outdoors. Overall, the groups who are more directly or indirectly affected by spend in this portfolio include older people, disabled people, those with existing health problems, those on lower incomes and people living in deprived areas.
Key Strategic Budget Priorities
Two of the Scottish Government's key strategic priorities are tackling climate change and growing the low carbon economy. This portfolio supports climate change policy development and delivery, and provides funding for local communities to take action on climate change. It is responsible for the Climate Change added (Scotland) Bill and monitoring the implementation of the Climate Change Plan. On the circular economy, we are developing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers and established an advisory group to consider fiscal measures to reduce waste. We have also established a Just Transition Commission to advise Minsters on fair transition to a low carbon Scotland.
Another priority is creating a cleaner, greener Scotland. This portfolio protects and enhances Scotland's natural environment and resources, as well as improving drinking water and air quality, and addressing flood risk. The work of this portfolio is important for reducing inequalities and for improving the health, wellbeing and quality of life of people in Scotland. It also supports sustainable economic growth and brings benefits to wildlife, ecosystems and biodiversity.
Land reform, in both the urban and rural context, and managing the Crown Estate are other priority areas. We want to encourage responsible and diverse land ownership, where communities have a say in how land and other assets in their area are used. This work has the potential to address local social and economic needs.
Equality Implications of the Scottish Budget 2019-20
The overall picture is one of very little change, though there is some movement within the portfolio.
The budget for the Hydro Nation Programme is increasing in 2019-20 compared to 2018-19. This includes funding for the Climate Justice Fund, which supports projects in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Rwanda to address water quality and scarcity, and to increase communities' resilience to the impacts of climate change. This work has a positive impact on inequalities on a global scale, as the poorest and most vulnerable people - including women and children - are often the most affected by climate change.
The budget (£1.7 million) for Private Water Supply Grant remains unchanged. This budget provides improvement grants to 3.6 per cent of Scotland's population who are reliant on a private water supply for their drinking water needs and are typically located in remote or rural areas. As reported by the Drinking Water Quality Regulator in her annual report for 2017, compliance with mandatory standards continues to be poor. This budget covers the costs incurred by the Drinking Water Quality Regulator in regulating public water supplies and ensuring that drinking water provided by Scottish Water meets mandatory standards. This will benefit public at large, including those with protected characteristics.
There will be a slight increase of £0.6 million in the budget for the National Park Authorities in 2019-20. This includes Scotland's two National parks, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs (LLT) and the Cairngorms, which play an important role in rural economic development, recreation, sustainability and the conservation of natural habitats. It is known that older people, disabled adults and people from minority ethnic groups are less likely to visit the outdoors and face multiple barriers to do so. This budget ensures that the appropriate public bodies have the funding to enable parks, facilities, services and communications to be made more accessible, thus ensuring that people of all abilities are able to enjoy the benefits of getting outdoors.
Spending on Natural Assets and Flooding will increase slightly to £14.7 million in 2019-20. This budget covers actions to tackle air and noise pollution, and improvements to the water environment. It also supports flood risk management activities. These have benefits for health and wellbeing at population level, but also for certain groups in society:
- Actions to tackle air quality and noise disturbance will benefit those who suffer most from the ill effects on their health and wellbeing. This includes children, older people, those with pre-existing health problems and people living in dense, urban areas close to busy roads. For example, there are 40 actions in the Clean Air for Scotland Strategy 2015 which include improved modelling techniques to inform the reduction of transport emissions.
- Funding for water environment restoration projects (funded by the Water Environment Fund) will make a difference for some of our most deprived communities by remediating contaminated land and creating good quality, accessible green space (which brings health and wellbeing benefits) and in many cases reducing flood risk.
Spending on Land Reform will remain unchanged at £17.1 million in 2019-20. This budget is used to encourage community land ownership through the Scottish Land Fund, to fund the Scottish Land Commission and implement measures in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016. No specific implications are expected for any of the protected groups.
Spending on climate change policy development and implementation will remain unchanged at £1.1 million. This budget supports this portfolio's climate change co-ordination work, which is needed to take forward our responsibilities under Scotland's climate change legislation. This includes continuing our work to ensure that Scotland is climate-ready and publishing our Second Climate Change Adaptation Programme. We know that lower income and other disadvantaged groups generally contribute least to causing climate change, but are likely to be more negatively affected by it and may be less likely to have their voices heard in decision making.
The budgets for the Land Managers' Renewables Fund remains unchanged. The Land Managers' Renewables Fund supports farmers, land managers and rural businesses to develop renewable energy projects, which can provide wider community benefits. The Sustainable Action Fund will increase from £18.7 million to £19.6 million. This will include the Climate Justice Fund and Climate Challenge Fund, which support communities in Scotland and in some of our African partner countries to take action on climate change.
There is an increase in spending from £4.1 million in 2018-19 to £4.6 million in 2019-20 in the Natural Resources budget. This incorporates funding for three main things: Special Protection Area restoration at opencast coal mine in East Ayrshire; core funding for the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) Trust; and a range of other activities to protect and improve the quality of services provided by the natural environment (e.g. expenditure on various natural heritage projects, reviews, consultations and funding commitments). The CSGN budget is being protected as it aims to improve the quality of publicly-owned greenspaces for recreation and community use, and will help tackle inequalities by targeting improvements in the most disadvantaged areas. Around 87 per cent of Scotland's severely deprived areas are located within the Central Scotland Green Network boundary. This equates to around 700,000 residents or 19 percent of the CSGN area's total population. The CSGN prioritises work with these communities to improve local environments and help tackle long-standing issues such as health inequalities.
Zero Waste budget remains unchanged at £20.5 million in 2019-20. This funds the activities of Zero Waste Scotland and the Scottish Government's Zero Waste policy team. This budget supports the delivery of our circular economy strategy in Scotland. Priorities include the Deposit Return Scheme (a key commitment in the 2017-2018 Programme for Government) and actions to improve recycling, reduce emissions from waste and tackle litter. An interim equality impact assessment of the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) showed that the scheme has the potential to affect everyone including people living in low income households and those living in remote rural areas and island communities. The design of the DRS will integrate equality impact monitoring and evaluation into its framework from the outset and a full and final equality impact assessment will be completed.
There will be an increase in the Marine Scotland budget to £64.7 million. This budget supports the sustainable use of Scotland's coasts, seas and freshwater fish populations. Marine Scotland has indicated that their budget allocation should have no negative equality impacts.
The budget for Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) increases slightly to £13.7 million for 2019-20.
For the other bodies funded by the portfolio, the budget for Scottish Natural Heritage will remain unchanged at £46.5 million in 2019-20 while there will be a £0.6 million reduction in the Scottish Environment Protection Agency's budget to £34.4 million. Like all public bodies, these organisations will continue to deliver their statutory equality duties and are required to assess equality impacts where there are significant changes to policy interventions, service delivery or staffing. For example, we would expect Scottish Natural Heritage and RBGE to consider the equality impacts of spending decisions on accessibility and use of the outdoors and national collections.
Overall, the equality assessment of the budget has found that any change in spend across the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform portfolio generally will have little or no adverse equality impact. However, we cannot be certain how public bodies will choose to prioritise resources. We expect them to undertake their own equality impact assessments where appropriate.
1. Scottish Water, Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the two National Park Authorities, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scottish Land Commission, Crown Estate Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland.
Email: Liz Hawkins