MINISTERS have been accused of undermining efforts to tackle climate change after it emerged rural recycling centres are at risk from council cuts.

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser raised fears his constituents will be forced to make a 20 to 30-mile round trip to recycle basic household items as a result of the “flytippers’ charter”.

It comes after Cosla, the umbrella body for Scottish local authorities, criticised the SNP Government’s draft Budget for 2020/21, insisting it amounted to a £95 million cut to core council budgets.

The Scottish Government said there would be an extra £494m for local authorities.

Mr Fraser raised the concerns of two councils in his constituency, Fife and Perth and Kinross, during a meeting of Holyrood’s Finance Committee.

He said: “Fife Council, in the area I represent, which is an SNP-Labour joint administration, is – even with the maximum uplift in council tax – looking at £12 million of cuts and a cost of 90 jobs.

“That’s 90 people losing their employment as a result of this offer.

“I had a meeting on Friday with Perth and Kinross Council, a Conservative minority administration. They are looking at making budget savings.

“One of the things they might have to cut is local recycling centres in rural communities, which would mean people living there would have to either not recycle, or face a 20-30 mile round trip to the nearest urban recycling centre.”

Addressing the SNP’s public finance minister Kate Forbes, he said: “You said at the start that part of your Budget objective was delivering a Budget that would tackle the climate emergency.

“Would you accept that it would be a real irony if a Budget meant to tackle the climate emergency passed on cuts to local councils that meant they were less able to take measures to tackle climate change – in fact, made it more difficult?”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Fraser added: “Any budget that fails to support local government will fail to tackle climate change.

“Local authorities manage recycling services throughout Scotland, without a proper funding settlement they will be forced to cut those services.

“The SNP cannot claim to have any credibility on climate change while pushing through this ‘flytippers’ charter’.”

Ms Forbes is overseeing the £40 billion Scottish Budget negotiations following the shock resignation of former finance secretary Derek Mackay, who is at the centre of a scandal involving inappropriate messages he sent to a 16-year-old boy.

She said council budgets are being protected as far as possible, and would see a real-terms increase.

She said:“I don’t think there’s any way you can get away from the fact that we are still dealing with a decade of austerity.

“No matter which way you look at it – in the last two years [UK] chancellors have announced that that year would be the end to austerity, and that hasn’t been the case.”

Ms Forbes said the Scottish Government is seeking to support councils to tackle the climate emergency.

And she insisted “every penny we can deploy is on the face of the Budget”.

She added: “If members believe that that money should be spent on local authorities, and removed from somewhere else, then it’s perfectly within their right to make that argument.

“My point would be – tell me where to take it from.”

Elsewhere, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie told Ms Forbes councillors he had spoken to had “serious concerns that councils will be in breach of their legal duties” due to the lack of cash allocated to them.

He said: “I’m sure I’m not the only person around this table who has been told by local government colleagues that the kind of choices they and their colleagues are going to be faced with in the coming weeks will result in substantial reductions in core services - teacher numbers, additional support for learning, social care.

“They have serious concerns that councils will be in breach of their legal duties as a result of choices that they will be forced to make as a result of the current situation.”

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Bibby said the level of funding for local government is “obscene”, citing an increase in the Scottish Government’s capital budget from Westminster.