Nicola Sturgeon's commitment to tackling climate change will not be "taken seriously" by world leaders if she does not tear up a deal with Heathrow Airport. 

That's the view of Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton who challenged the First Minister to "rip up" the memorandum of understanding signed with the London airport before before COP26 later this month. 

He made the challenge as he addressed a virtual conference of Scottish and Welsh Liberal Democrats.

In October 2016, the Scottish Government formally backed a third runaway at that airport as it signed a memorandum of understanding linked to the benefits it believed this could bring to Scotland.

With regard to that, Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “I have three words for Nicola Sturgeon – rip it up.”

The Herald:

The Lib Dem leader added: “Rip up your contract in support of a third runway at Heathrow. And do it before Cop26 lands in Glasgow.

“Because unless you do First Minister, I can’t take your commitment to the climate emergency seriously, and neither should the watching world.”

He said the Scottish Government had recently “admitted” climate change targets can not be met “if everyone flies as much as they used to”.

But he said calls from ministers for aviation to fall by a third from pre-pandemic levels were “just  a statement” when at the same time the “Scottish Government holds a contract with the single biggest polluter in the entire United Kingdom – that’s Heathrow airport”.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “The SNP talk the language of environmentalism but their economic policy is predicated on maximum extraction of fossil fuels from the North Sea and 75,000 extra flights between Scotland and London by 2040.”

READ MORE: Cole-Hamilton to demand ministers publish ambulance waiting times every week

To tackle the climate emergency, the new Scottish Lib Dem leader said he wanted to offer “new hope for the climate emergency with fresh ideas for every part of the crisis facing our planet”.

He called for a new “railcard entitlement” so that everyone could benefit from significantly reduced train fares, encouraging them to travel by rail rather than boarding domestic flights.

He also argued that powers of air passenger duty, which are being devolved to Scotland, should be used to increase charges for those who fly more often.