THE SCOTTISH Government has been criticised for continuing to support the “climate-wrecking” Heathrow expansion – while pledging that the country will be carbon neutral by 2045.

The agreement between the airport and the Scottish Government includes a pledge of up to 16,000 new jobs across Scotland as a result of the expansion.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie, in a written question to Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, asked whether the Scottish Government “remains committed to the memorandum of understanding that it signed with Heathrow Airport” as well as “what consideration it has given to withdrawing from it”.

Mr Matheson confirmed the Scottish Government continues to support the third runway project at Heathrow.

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He said: “Yes, we remain committed to the memorandum of understanding between the Scottish Government and Heathrow. We are clear that expansion of the UK’s only global hub airport should deliver benefits for all the nations of the UK.

“Routes between Scotland and global hubs like Heathrow and Amsterdam are essential for Scotland’s international connectivity, supporting economic growth in Scotland and helping us deliver our trade and investment strategy. As these reasons remain valid we have not considered withdrawing from the memorandum of understanding.”

HeraldScotland: Heathrow AirportHeathrow Airport

Mr Rennie has now demanded the First Minister withdraw support for the expansion of Heathrow, stressing that the project is “fundamentally incompatible” with a green recovery from the coronavirus and risks “endangering the climate”.

He said: “I’m astonished that the Scottish Government is refusing to budge on its ill-judged support for Heathrow expansion.

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“A third runway at Heathrow would result in hundreds of thousands of tonnes of extra emissions from additional flights. That will set us back on achieving our climate ambitions and is fundamentally incompatible with our desire for a green recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

“The Scottish Government’s stubborn support of this damaging venture is nonsensical and endangering the climate.”

He added: “It is really disappointing the First Minister did not look again at the support for Heathrow despite promising it to the Parliament that she would.

“People need to know the government is taking the climate threat seriously, and actions speak louder than words. The SNP must immediately heed the evidence, change their tune and withdraw their support for Heathrow’s expansion.”

Climate campaigners have also criticised ministers for continuing to pledge support to the project.

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Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, Dr Richard Dixon, said: “It beggars belief that the Scottish Government have not even considered withdrawing from their backroom deal with Heathrow Airport. The High Court ruled in February 2020 that the UK Government’s decision to expand Heathrow was illegal on climate grounds.

“The Scottish Government cannot continue to support this climate-wrecking project which is opposed by those residents living nearby as well anyone who is serious about bringing down emissions in line with climate science.”

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He added: “There were hopeful signs when SNP MPs abstained on the Westminster vote on a third runway, and the First Minister committed to looking at the third runway through a ‘lens of climate change’. But clearly, despite their fine words on climate change and the legal ruling, the Scottish Government have reverted to their previous unquestioning support for Heathrow expansion.

“Coronavirus has decimated the international air travel market so it is pure folly to believe that this project will ever get off the ground. We should instead be investing our time and resources into a green recovery that prioritises public transport and bringing down climate emissions from the most polluting sector of transport.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.