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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 13:18 GMT
McConnell delivers green pledge
Greengairs landfill site
Most domestic waste ends up in landfill sites
Efforts to improve Scotland's environmental record are to be placed at the heart of government policies, First Minister Jack McConnell has promised.

He pledged more action on recycling as he delivered what was billed as the first major speech on environmental issues by a first minister.

He said the Scottish Executive's spending plans would now be examined to assess their environmental impact.


I want to take the lead on recycling and see our rate of progress on this increase

Jack McConnell
First Minister
And he demanded action to give communities "environmental justice".

"Good government can affect real change and greater determination from all Scottish ministers will see improvement on Scotland's environmental record," he said.

Mr McConnell visited the Greengairs landfill site in North Lanarkshire on Monday morning to underline the problems of excessive waste and the need for more recycling.

He then addressed an environmental conference at the Dynamic Earth exhibition in Edinburgh.

Mr McConnell told delegates that a new mechanism would be introduced this year to consider the environmental impact of the spending decisions taken by the Scottish Executive.

Spending commitments

"Spending departments within the executive will need to demonstrate what contribution their proposals will make towards the achievements of sustainable development objectives.

"I am not making new spending commitments, I am making new commitments on our spending.

"I want to take the lead on recycling and see our rate of progress on this increase. We must now bring all this to bear throughout government."

Mr McConnell said he wanted all public bodies in Scotland to set their own targets for recycling.

Greengairs village
Mr McConnell visited Greengairs village
He also signalled his intention to increase the amount of Scotland's electricity which comes from renewable sources.

The executive has already set a target of 18% by 2010 - and will now go out to consultation on proposals to increase that to 30% by 2020.

Mr McConnell also stressed that environmental damage hit Scotland's poorest communities the hardest.

"The gap between the haves and have nots is not just an economic issue - improving quality of life demands environmental justice too.

"At the moment there is a real injustice in that people who suffer the most from a poor environment are those least able to fight back.


The executive's record on the environment to date indicates that there will have to be a root and branch overhaul of its policies

Robin Harper
Green MSP
"We must all take responsibility for the world in which we live and I am determined that government will lead by example," he said.

He called on companies to establish better relationships with local communities.

"Industry should strive to be good neighbours and thorough and honest appraisal of environmental performance can be the spur to further improvement," said Mr McConnell.

Friends of the Earth chief executive Kevin Dunion welcomed the speech.

But he added: "It would be unacceptable if business as usual was simply re-badged to fit the message of environmental justice.

'Overdue announcement'

"If we don't see change in the way we ordinarily do things then sustainable development is not happening."

Green MSP Robin Harper said: "I welcome the first minister's long overdue announcement on how the executive intends to address sustainability and environmental issues.

"However, the road to environmental ruin is strewn with 'green' intentions, and the executive's record on the environment to date indicates that there will have to be a root and branch overhaul of its policies if the objectives for sustainability Mr McConnell has laid out today are to be achieved."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Isabel Fraser reports
"All executive plans will have to undergo a green audit"
See also:

14 Feb 02 | Scotland
Finnie's upbeat message on energy
16 Jul 01 | Scotland
New waste law sparks concern
25 Apr 01 | Scotland
Frontline Scotland: Dirty Business
25 May 00 | UK
It's a dirty job...
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