ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have labelled the Scottish Government’s plans for a green economic recovery “woefully inadequate” - after Fiona Hyslop set out key actions it will take.

In June, the Scottish Government’s economic advisory group, led by Benny Higgins, published recommendations as to how the country should go about helping the economic recover.

The document stressed that a green recovery was “central to recovery overall” - with the Scottish Government already pledging to become carbon neutral by 2045.

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In his report, Mr Higgins added: “The Scottish Government now needs to establish a priority on delivering transformational change with clear sector plans, where the coincidence of emissions reductions, the development of natural capital and job creation is the strongest.”

The Scottish Government has now formally responded to the action plan and has indicated it will take forward plans for a £50 million fund to support youth unemployment and a jobs guarantee.

Ministers have also committed to introducing a transition training fund to support people facing redundancy and unemployment in sectors most at risk of an economic downturn.

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Ms Hyslop said: “We all acknowledge the scale of the challenge facing Scotland’s economy as result of Covid-19, but we also recognise this is an opportunity to do things differently and crucially to rebuild a stronger, fairer and greener economic future.

“The Scottish Government’s focus will be on protecting jobs, creating jobs, ensuring quality jobs and supporting skilled jobs. We are working quickly to achieve this and many of the actions outlined today are already well underway.”

She added: “No-one should be left behind and our work to prioritise those hardest hit by this pandemic is clear through our commitment of at least £50 million for youth employment and the Scottish job guarantee, as well as our dedicated transition training fund which will provide opportunities to upskill and transition into employment.

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“We are also focused on generating significant economic growth through further action to support our small and medium sized businesses, proposals to alleviate planning restraints and our commitment to continue working closely with business leaders to ensure we are doing all we can.”

The Scottish Government’s response stresses that there is “a clear green thread to all of our spending” and adds that the now-delayed climate change plan “will set out climate and nature investments to help stimulate demand, jobs and supply chains” when it is published later this year.

But Friends of the Earth Scotland have criticised the lack of commitment to kickstarting a green recovery.

The organisation’s head of campaigns, Mary Church, said: “The Scottish Government's blueprint for economic recovery is a woefully inadequate response to the scale of the challenges we face from Covid-19 and the climate emergency.

“The so-called 'green thread' running through the response is little more than rhetoric with very little in the way of concrete new commitments that would truly centre a just transition to a zero carbon economy.

"It's disappointing that the government has not taken this opportunity to adopt the recent recommendations of the Just Transition Commission including a large-scale fossil fuel decommissioning programme, public investment in renewable manufacturing facilities, buying fleets of green buses for local authorities and doubling energy efficiency budgets.

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“We are alarmed by the intention to review permitted development rights and urge the Scottish Government not to follow the UK Government in ripping up the planning rulebook to rush through controversial applications against community wishes.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has welcomed a commitment from the Scottish Government to deliver a Scottish job guarantee but has called for additional funding for the strategy to become a success.

Mr Harvie has warned that “the green growth rhetoric is just a reworking of old ideas which fail to offer the transformational change that’s needed”.

He added: “I very much welcome the commitment to support 20,000 young people in jobs, but it's clear that if the job guarantee is to live up to its name we’ll need to see more and longer-term funding.”