ENVIRONMENTAL projects in Scotland receive 20 times less private grant funding than in England and Wales, according to a study to be published this week.

Environment charities north of the border are losing out to to those down south, despite the importance of Scotland’s unique natural heritage.

Major funding disparities have been criticised by environmental groups, who want more money to be spent in Scotland. They say it’s crucial that Scotland receives its fair share of grants.

The report has been compiled by the Environmental Funders Network and is the first to examine the situation in Scotland. It analysed 1,347 grants from various sources between 2012 and 2016 totalling £80 million.

Private foundation grants amounted to £1 per head in Scotland compared to £2 per head in England and Wales, the report concludes. The money equated to £70 per square kilometre in Scotland and £768 per square kilometre in England and Wales.

“Whichever way you look at it, Scotland’s environment appears to get a rum deal in terms of philanthropic support,” the report says.

It points out that Scotland accounts for 56 per cent of the UK’s coastline, but coastal and marine ecosystems received only three per cent of grant funding from foundations, the Lottery and other sources. “Climate and atmosphere-related work receives even less – a tiny 0.4 per cent of all grants by value,” the report adds.

“This suggests very little available funding for campaigning work on climate change or air quality, though the latter is a particular problem in Scotland’s cities.”

Hugh Raven, chair of the Environmental Funders Network, pointed out that philanthropic trusts and foundations are an important source of money for charities. “It's disappointing to see how little is available in Scotland compared to England and Wales,” he said.

“Much of the money being spent by charities in Scotland comes from south of the border. There's a very good return on investment in environmental charities in Scotland, and we hope when we do this survey again to find more Scots foundations are supporting environmental work at home.”

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Scotland stressed it was grateful to independent funders. “But, as this report highlights, we have many challenges and limited resources to call upon,” said the society’s director, Anne McCall.

“It is vital that all stakeholders, and especially our governments, are aware the funding challenges facing our natural environment, and especially for those charities and others who use such funds to protect and conserve the UK’s most threatened species and fragile habitats.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland argued that many UK funders “just don’t get” Scotland. “With opportunities to make good progress on challenges like climate change, air pollution and waste management, Scotland is a place to show that good ideas can make a difference,” said the environment group’s director, Dr Richard Dixon.

“Funders who have staff in Scotland or have come and engaged with stakeholders can see the potential here and I urge all environmental funders with a UK interest to come and discover the vibrant and innovative charity and community sector north of the border.”

The Scottish Wildlife Trust warned that the funding available for environmental work across Scotland was falling. “Scotland has an incredible environmental resource that includes 60 per cent of the UK’s peatlands and a remarkable coastline as long as the rest of Britain’s,” said the trust’s head of development, Lucy Graham.

“It is crucial that Scotland as a whole receives a fair share of funding based on the scale of this resource.”

Twelve projects to create local, green energy solutions have been awarded a share of £2.6m through a Scottish Government scheme to support low carbon energy.

Projects in Glencoe, Callander, Aviemore, Stromness and St Andrews were amongst those to be awarded a share of the funding as part of the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme.

The schemes include low-carbon heat provision at the University of the West of Scotland's Ayr campus, energy efficient homes for older people in North Lanarkshire and an energy project in Glencoe Village.