‘Increase funds for local councils if we want Scotland to reach climate goal of Net Zero’ says Scottish Labour MSP

Central Scotland MSP Monica Lennon, along with Stephen Smellie, vice-convenor of UNISON Scotland has called for more money to be allocated to South Lanarkshire Council in efforts to deliver on climate duties. 

The Scottish Government has set intentions for net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2045 and a target of 75% by 2030. Hamilton man Stephen Smellie was invited to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament committee responsible for scrutinising the Scottish Government’s progress. 

Monica has been a member of the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee since its inception last year. In the 20 September evidence session prominent trade unionist Stephen Smellie highlighted the strain that delivering net zero will put on local government  

Appearing at Holyrood, Stephen Smellie told the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee: 

“To retrofit all the non-domestic buildings—the schools, swimming pools, sports centres and halls—to bring them up to net zero standard would cost the council £500 million. In case it is a surprise to anybody, South Lanarkshire Council does not have £500 million.” 

“Local government will not be able to achieve what we all hope it can achieve unless there is proper funding. We continue to build buildings that will be unfit for purpose within a short time. There is an opportunity to address that”. 

Monica commented “The Scottish Government has the right ambition to tackle the twin climate and nature emergencies, however, properly funding local government is vital to delivering on these goals and targets. 

“As a Committee member, I have lost count of the hours being told by experts and communities that local councils have experienced significant and unsustainable cuts over recent years, South Lanarkshire included. 

“Tackling climate change is very important to me, but we cannot expect local councils to be part of this change without adequate investment in public services to support this. 

“Tackling climate change is a difficult challenge, however, it should also be an opportunity to create new jobs and opportunities for people and communities through a just transition. I expect our Committee will have present bold recommendation to the Scottish Government when our report is published later this year.”