KATE Forbes has angered campaigners after her advisory group tasked with drawing up a 10-year strategy to transform Scotland into a net zero economy is lacking anyone with a climate or environmental background.

The Finance and Economy Secretary announced the new advisory council last month, insisting that the panel and the strategy will help foster “greater, greener and fairer prosperity”.

Ms Forbes added that the advisory group “will utilise the expertise of business, trade unions and economists to deliver a focused plan of actions and projects to help transform our economy and help us reach net zero”.

But a host of campaign groups including Friends of the Earth Scotland, the Marine Conservation Society and the Scottish Environment LINK Economics Group, have penned a letter to Ms Forbes, insisting that at least two people with a background in climate or the environment must be involved.

The letter also calls for the “economic pathway” in helping Scotland to meet its climate targets to be put at the heart of the council and the 10-year strategy.

The advisory group has already faced controversy due to the inclusion of former Treasury mandarin and hate figure of independence supporters, Sir Nick Macpherson.

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Labour said the lack of an environmental input risks turning the advisory council into “another talking shop dominated by business leaders”, adding there's an “urgent need” for the council to make “truly transformative decisions”.

Despite setting ambitious targets to turn Scotland into a carbon net zero nation by 2045, SNP ministers have missed their emissions targets for the last three years in a row.

The SNP has also faced a backlash after failing to capitalise economically, including producing a vast number of promised Scottish jobs, in renewable energy industries.

The latest row over Ms Forbes’ advisory panel arguably puts the SNP in an awkward position with the Scottish Greens – with reports a co-operation agreement between the two parties at Holyrood is due to be signed off in the coming days.

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Greens co-leader, Lorna Slater, while not criticising the Scottish Government, said it was “crucial that the economic recovery leaves no-one behind and addresses the biggest challenges facing us”.

She added: “It’s important any strategy is shaped by those who understand the stakes and urgency of the climate and nature emergencies.”

Tory net zero spokesperson, Liam Kerr, said the row “highlights the muddled thinking in the SNP’s cosying up to the Greens in recent weeks”.

He added: “Having missed their own emissions targets for three years running, it is little wonder the SNP would want to avoid environmental experts scrutinising and exposing their record further.

“It is time for the SNP to stop with the warm words on the climate emergency and start taking the action that will ensure we hit net zero."

In their letter, the activists have warned they are “deeply concerned that there is no-one on the council with a background in the environmental movement nor anyone who will speak from a climate change or biodiversity perspective with a track record of insisting that the priority for economic policy has to be to keep to (or get back within) planetary limits”.

The letter calls on Ms Forbes to “seek to add to the advisory council’s membership at least two people with a strong environmental and climate change background” and “place the economic pathway to meeting our ambitious statutory climate change targets through a just transition into the remit of the council and at the core of the new strategy”.

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Matthew Crighton, sustainable economy adviser for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The Cabinet Secretary needs to appoint environmentalists onto the advisory council to make sure those with a strong understanding of the need to reduce our emissions and prioritise wellbeing are heard at the highest level.

“Issues of climate change and biodiversity loss are stark and force us to change how we see the economy.

"We need to move away from accepting what the markets give us – it’s no longer enough to just have some green sections in our economic strategy, sitting alongside business-as-usual programmes which continue to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and threats to nature.”

Labour’s net zero spokesperson, Monica Lennon, said: “It beggars belief that Kate Forbes’ ‘ambitious’ 10-year strategy for economic transformation to a net zero economy seems to have missed the point of net zero and neglected to include a single expert on climate change.

“Without someone with the necessary expertise to speak to the science, the council risks becoming another talking shop dominated by business leaders.

“The Scottish Government’s poor track record on the creation of green jobs and its three years of missing its own emissions targets serves to highlight the urgent need for this council to make some truly transformative decisions.”

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The 10-year strategy is expected to be published in the autumn.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The remit of the advisory council on economic transformation is clear – to help build an economy that delivers greater, greener and fairer prosperity and enables Scotland to reach net zero.

“The transition to net zero will underpin our new national strategy and many of the council members have been chosen because they already put environmental sustainability to the fore in their own businesses.

“We will publish the strategy in the autumn and hope environmental groups play a full part in the current consultation process.”