Mixed welcome from Lochaber environmental activists on SNP deal with Greens

Members of Extinction Rebellion from Lochaber and the rest of the Highlands and Islands on the High Street in Edinburgh. NO F26 XR in Edinburgh 01
Members of Extinction Rebellion from Lochaber and the rest of the Highlands and Islands on the High Street in Edinburgh. NO F26 XR in Edinburgh 01

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Climate and environmental activists in Lochaber have welcomed the endorsement by the SNP’s ruling body of a power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens, but it is tinged with disappointment.

The two parties published details of the co-operation agreement on Friday, including a commitment to hold a referendum on Scottish independence within five years.

Party members of the Scottish Greens agreed to accept the deal at the weekend.

A spokesperson for the local branch of XR (Extinction Rebellion) told the Lochaber Times this week: ‘Collaboration between parties is very welcome in principle and we in Scotland should be especially proud of this substantive role offered to the Scottish Green Party.

‘There are, however, some very disappointing exclusions from the agreement – the role of Gross Domestic Product measurements and economic principles related to concepts of sustainable growth and inclusive growth; aviation, aerospace and defence; field sports.

‘Also, other than a vague undertaking to introduce targets for restoring and protecting nature, there is no explicit mention of either land reform or rewilding – both of which are of fundamental importance in tackling the ecological crisis.

‘The need for rapid system change is increasing exponentially and each of those excluded matters has the potential to hobble the progress necessary to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to a sustainable level or to protect our collapsing ecosystems.

‘The proof of this particular pudding will be in the policies which are enacted – and we don’t have time to get it wrong.’

While the deal has been broadly welcomed by groups including Friends of the Earth Scotland, there has been push-back from other certain land interests.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land and Estates, said: ‘For some time there has been significant concern amongst rural communities and businesses that votes on policies of huge significance to rural Scotland were being traded in return for support on high-profile issues such as the annual budget.

‘We wait to see how the coalition announcement will impact that perception.

‘There will be significant unease if the new coalition takes an ideological approach rather than one that seeks to bring people together.

‘We want to work with the new government and believe the best outcome for the environment can be achieved by constructive partnership with our members.’