The Scottish Government’s environment committee has raised ‘grave concerns’ over the loss of European funding for climate change research as a result of Brexit.
The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee Report on Scotland’s 2018-19 budget said the Scottish Government should make it a matter of “extreme urgency” to work with partners including the UK Government to identify possible replacement funding streams. It said the “huge impact” of the the loss of EU funding for the environment, climate change and related research “cannot be over stated” as it was the second largest source of funding after the Scottish Government.
In his report, committee convenor Graeme Dey MSP said, replacing the funding was a ”major concern”, because giving evidence to the committee, the Cabinet Secretary had said, “at the moment there is no answer to the question what will happen when EU funding ceases….no contingency plan can be put in place because we have no certainty about what will actually happen”.
The committee welcomed a planned overall increase in spending on climate mitigation measures, from £463.7 million in the 2017-18 Draft Budget to £558.1 million. But it noted a long-term decline in funding for environmental organisations and linked it to poor performance in ECCR indicators, of which two - reducing waste and increasing renewable energy production – had been negative.
The committee also highlighted a significant reduction in the funds available for renewable and community energy, saying that overall the renewable and community energy and energy capital budget has declined by £8.6 million (22%) from 2017/18 to 2018/19. Enterprise agencies’ investment in renewables has also declined from £16.8 million to £13.3 million. “There is no explanation as to the impact of these significant reductions,” it said.