OVER 5,000 BACK GREEN FRACKING PETITION; PARTY LEADERS INVITED

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

The Scottish Green petition calling on the UK Government to halt its plans to award licenses to frack for gas across Scotland has achieved over 5,300 signatures since being launched on Monday morning.

Fracking campaign banner with image of underground fracking

Earlier this week Scottish Greens Co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP wrote to the leaders of Scotland’s four other parties, including Labour’s Jim Murphy and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, inviting them to support the call but none have done so.

Mr Harvie said:

“The huge public support we’ve had for our petition to DECC piles pressure on all the other parties. When Greens proposed a ban last year Labour and the SNP voted with the Conservatives and Libdems to oppose such a move. It’s equally disappointing to see them fail to support our effort to call a halt to the ongoing licensing round.

“The UK Government is wrong to press ahead with decisions that Scotland should take. Whatever the other parties’ positions on fracking and other forms of unconventional gas, they must agree that it’s unacceptable that Scottish communities will have no say in licensing that looks set to affect them.”

Opinion polling shows most Scots oppose fracking, and most want decisions over licensing devolved. Yet the current round of licensing, affecting the entire Scottish Central Belt, is still being pursued by the UK Government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Scottish Green MSPs Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone have been campaigning against unconventional gas extraction since the 2011 election. As well as proposing a ban, they have urged ministers to provide funding for local authorities to develop robust policies to handle any fracking applications.

 

 

 

The huge public support we've had for our petition to DECC piles pressure on all the other parties.
Patrick Harvie MSP

SCOTTISH BROADCASTERS URGED TO #INVITETHEGREENS FOLLOWING UK MOVE

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Scottish Greens are urging Scottish broadcasters to follow the example of the UK TV channels following their U-turn on high profile General Election debates which were due to exclude the Greens.

Green Surge

The UK broadcasters have confirmed that the BBC and ITV intend to stage debates featuring 7 panellists, including the Greens.

It follows the “Green Surge” in membership of the UK’s Green Parties, including a rise in membership of the Scottish Greens to over 8,500 from 1,700 in September and strong UK polling putting the Greens ahead of the Libdems.

BBC Scotland has stated that it intends to broadcast a peak-time Scottish debate featuring the SNP, Labour, Conservatives and Libdems but not the Greens, while STV has said it will stage a debate featuring “relevant” party leaders but has yet to confirm details.

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“It would appear common sense has prevailed among the UK-wide broadcasters. We have an incredibly engaged electorate who deserve to hear a range of views ahead of an election that will be unlike any other.

“Given the Green surge in membership here in Scotland, and polling putting us level with the Libdems, I look forward to BBC Scotland and STV following the lead of the UK broadcasters and inviting the Greens.”

 

Given the Green surge in membership here in Scotland, and polling putting us level with the Libdems, I look forward to BBC Scotland and STV following the lead of the UK broadcasters and inviting the Greens.
Alison Johnstone MSP

DRAFT DEVO CLAUSES SHOW NEED TO HALT FRACKING DECISIONS

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

The Scottish Greens say that while the command paper on devolution produced by the UK Government today (22 Jan) appears to match many of the Smith Commission recommendations, it still falls short of many people’s expectations.

PH smart for web

And the Greens are highlighting one area where UK Government action threatens
to render new powers worthless before they are devolved.

The Smith Commission agreed to devolve to Scottish Ministers the current
regime for the licencing of exploration and extraction of onshore oil and gas.
This could take years; meanwhile licencing affecting the entire Scottish
Central Belt is already being pursued by the UK Government’s Department for
Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

A Scottish Green petition calling on DECC to halt licencing while the power is
devolved has achieved over 5,000 signatures since being launched on Monday (19
Jan). Opinion polling shows most Scots oppose fracking, and most want
decisions over licencing devolved.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“If the UK Government has a shred of decency it must put decisions about
fracking and similar techniques on hold immediately, until the Scottish
Parliament has the power to act. To hand swathes of Scotland over to the
fracking industry would demonstrate utter contempt for the promise to
implement the Smith proposals.

“These draft clauses will only become law after the UK election, and the
current UK Government can claim no mandate to give the green light to fracking
in Scotland.

“We know that this is going to be an election like no other with smaller
parties potentially holding the balance. It is therefore vital to have more
Green voices at Westminster to challenge all those who want to see one more
roll of the fossil fuel dice.

“We will of course subject the devolution process to close scrutiny in
Holyrood’s devolution committee which my colleague Alison Johnstone sits on,
and on the Energy Committee I will continue to press the Scottish Government
to act against fracking with whatever powers it has open to it.”

Scottish Green Party Co-conveners Patrick Harvie MSP and councillor Maggie
Chapman took part in the cross-party Smith negotiations, securing agreement on
proposals including devolution of fracking licences, energy company
obligations and the power to bring railways back into public ownership.

 

Sign the Scottish Greens Fracking Petition

These draft clauses will only become law after the UK election, and the current UK Government can claim no mandate to give the green light to fracking in Scotland.
Patrick Harvie MSP

IRAQ INQUIRY DELAY IS AFFRONT SAYS HARVIE

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, is condemning the latest delay in publication of the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War.

PH smart for web

Scottish Greens opposed the war and supported calls for the inquiry, which began in 2009, to report at the earliest opportunity. A backbench Commons debate, sponsored by Green MP Caroline Lucas, is due to take place next week, calling for the inquiry to publish its findings by 12 February.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“This further delay is an affront to democracy. Since last year the inquiry has been giving witnesses time to respond to allegations against them. It’s hard not to conclude that every opportunity is being given to those at the centre of this illegal conflict to water down the report’s findings.

“This entire sorry saga is a reminder that Labour should never have taken us into conflict in Iraq, a decision supported by that party’s latest Scottish leader. I note the call from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for the report to be published before the election, and I believe this latest delay will undermine the inquiry’s credibility.”

 

This entire sorry saga is a reminder that Labour should never have taken us into conflict in Iraq, a decision supported by that party's latest Scottish leader.
Patrick Harvie MSP

Trident Debate Chance To Say No To Nato And Yes To Peace

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Scottish Greens are welcoming today’s debate at Westminster on the Clyde-based Trident nuclear weapons system, saying it highlights the need to reject the Nato nuclear military alliance as well.

John Finnie Takes to the Stage

The Scottish Greens, who expect to stand in around 30 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats in May, want to see Trident scrapped, Nato membership rejected and defence funding diverted to the real priorities of humanitarian work, disaster relief and peacekeeping.

Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie and Central Scotland MSP John Wilson joined the Scottish Greens after leaving the SNP following its decision to adopt a pro-Nato policy. Nato commits members to sharing, maintaining and storing nuclear weapons and demands a minimum defence spend of 2 per cent of GDP.

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:

“Millions of jobs could be created by scrapping our outdated and immoral nuclear weapons. The Cold War bunker mentality of Labour, the Tories and the Libdems is simply appalling. Just think how £100 billion could transform our communities, especially those where poverty has become ingrained thanks to the Westminster consensus on welfare cuts and squeezing our public services.

“While the SNP share our view on Trident we must disagree with their position on Nato and defence spending. By repurposing our military and adapting to the threats of the 21st century we could free up funds to create many more new jobs, tackle underemployment, poor wages and low-energy transport and housing. Our Green MP candidates will provide a voice for those who agree Scotland is a nation of peace not international aggression.”

John Finnie MSP said:

“The spending of billions on indiscriminate weapons of mass slaughter must be condemned. But those who share that view must see it is a policy contradictory with membership of a first strike nuclear alliance.”

 

The spending of billions on indiscriminate weapons of mass slaughter must be condemned. But those who share that view must see it is a policy contradictory with membership of a first strike nuclear alliance.
John Finnie

JOHNSTONE SECURES TRANSPARENCY PLEDGE ON PUBLIC PENSIONS

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, has secured a pledge from Finance Secretary John Swinney that Scotland’s largest public pension investments will be made more transparent so that local government employees can see whether their funds are invested in the fossil fuels contributing to climate change.

Alison small pic

The “divestment” movement, which urges pension funds to withdraw from risky sectors such as coal, oil and gas has been gathering momentum.

Recently Glasgow University announced it will withdraw over £18million of investments from fossil fuel companies, citing the ‘devastating impact’ of climate change. AP2, one of the Sweden’s national pension funds, is divesting £80billion worth of assets.

In a written reply to Alison Johnstone, Finance Secretary and Deputy First Minister John Swinney says he has asked the Scottish Public Pensions Agency and the new local government pension scheme advisory board to “pursue enhanced transparency of investments.”

The Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme is the largest funded public pension scheme in Scotland, with over 200,000 active members, 96,000 deferred members and 167,000 pensioners and dependants.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“The science is clear, and the economics is clear. We cannot afford to burn all the fossil fuels we have access to if we’re serious about limiting the effects of climate change.

“I welcome the deputy first minister’s decision to encourage transparency, and I look forward to the Scottish local government pension scheme laying out where its investments lie. Those with a stake in these funds should have the facts so they can make the case for divestment from fossil fuels.”

 

Alison has lodged a parliamentary motion on divestment

Fossil Free network of campaigns and campaigners working toward fossil fuel divestment

Those with a stake in these funds should have the facts so they can make the case for divestment from fossil fuels.
Alison Johnstone MSP

GREEN PETITION TO STOP FRACKING LICENSES; POLL SHOWS OPPOSITION

Monday, January 19th, 2015

As the latest opinion poll shows Scots are opposed to the controversial gas drilling process known as fracking, the Scottish Greens have launched a petition calling on the UK Government to halt its plans to award licenses to drill across Scotland.

AJ fracking

The Survation poll for the Daily Record suggests 45 per cent of Scots oppose fracking, 24 per cent support it, with the rest undecided.

A poll in November by the Green MSPs showed 66 per cent of Scots wanted control over fracking licenses to be devolved.

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, said:

“We expect the power to award licenses to drill for oil and gas on land to eventually be devolved, so it makes no sense for the UK Government to continue to award further licenses in Scotland. Such decisions would pre-empt the ability of the Scottish Parliament to take a different approach.

“The latest poll shows there’s clear opposition to fracking in Scotland, and I urge communities who face such developments to sign our petition to send a strong message to the UK Government.”

The opinion poll and the petition come as the Green MSPs press Scottish ministers for funding for planning authorities to develop robust policies to help prevent fracking firms challenging decisions.

 

Scottish Greens’ fracking petition to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Scots oppose unconventional drilling (Daily Record)

Poll showing most Scots want powers over fracking to be transferred from Westminster to Scotland (Scottish Greens)

 

The latest poll shows there's clear opposition to fracking in Scotland, and I urge communities who face such developments to sign our petition to send a strong message to the UK Government.
Alison Johnstone MSP

FRACKING FUNDS CALL FROM GREENS AHEAD OF BUDGET DEBATE

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Scottish Green MSPs are calling on ministers to amend the proposed 2015-16 Scottish budget to create a new fund for local authorities facing a wave of controversial fracking developments.

fracking-SM

This Wednesday (21 Jan) MSPs vote on the principles of the draft budget and Green MSPs Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone are outlining their priorities.

The UK Government is considering awarding licenses to gas drilling firms for a huge swathe of Scotland, from Argyll and Ayrshire in the west to Aberdeenshire and East Lothian in the east. Planning authorities will face complex assessments yet many have no clear policy on the issue and could be open to challenge by developers.

This week West Lothian Council agreed to write to the Scottish Government calling for a moratorium on unconventional gas, following a similar move by North Lanarkshire prompted by independent councillor Frances McGlinchey, who recently joined the Scottish Greens. Both are Labour-controlled councils. Last year following a Green debate at Holyrood Labour MSPs voted against a ban on fracking, as did SNP, Conservative and Libdem members.

Scottish Green campaigners are urging communities concerned about fracking to lobby their MSPs to sign Alison Johnstone’s parliamentary motion, which calls for a ban.

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, said:

“Local authorities are on the frontline of this potential new wave of destructive development. If the Scottish Government is serious about its position on fracking – that is to put faith in the planning framework – it needs to step up and support our completely unprepared planning authorities.

“Ministers have in the past provided local authorities with funding to deal with high levels of windfarm determinations. Why not support councils facing fracking applications?

“The Scottish Government has options including underspends and consequential funds, so let’s see if they take this opportunity to help shut the door to fracking. The sooner we shut down this dangerous distraction the better, and we can instead focus on investment in renewables, retrofit jobs and apprenticeships.”

Other budget priorities outlined by the Green MSPs ahead of Wednesday’s debate include:

-Making the repair and retrofit of poorly insulated and glazed homes a national infrastructure investment priority, creating thousands of jobs.
-Expansion of the Modern Apprenticeship scheme to include energy efficiency.
-Using the underspent Renewable Energy Investment Fund to support the huge potential in the wave industry.
-Improve air quality by investing in walking and cycling infrastructure and doubling the Scottish Green Bus Fund which provides low emissions vehicles.
-Exploring the creation of a Fans First Fund to provide loans to supporter groups seeking to purchase their local football club.

 

Alison’s motion (Stop Fracking in Scotland)

If the Scottish Government is serious about its position on fracking - that is to put faith in the planning framework - it needs to step up and support our completely unprepared planning authorities.
Alison Johnstone MSP

MCALPINE RANT SHOWS SNP CENTRALISATION MUST STOP

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Scottish Greens are calling on the SNP leadership to explain whether they back the views of MSP Joan McAlpine who today said those who support devolution of local powers want to “bring down our parliament.”

Ms McAlpine says those who seek greater control at local level want to “strengthen their own tattered power base” and “channel money back to their cronies.”

Scottish Greens have long campaigned for greater local democracy and last year published a detailed package of research and proposals by governance writer Andy Wightman.

The party, which has councillors in Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Midlothian and Stirling, believes giving local government the power to raise the majority of its funding using a variety of taxes such as land value tax would emulate the stronger democracy other European countries take for granted and address the low turnout in local elections.

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian and local government spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:

“As we prepare for long-overdue cross-party talks on reform of local taxation I am surprised to see these comments. Of course local communities have been bearing the brunt of the SNP’s centralising tendencies for some time. We’ve seen the loss of local fire, police and court services along with a council tax freeze that benefits the wealthiest the most and is forcing local authorities to start cutting frontline services.

“The SNP need to show confidence in our communities. The current system of local taxation is unfair and unsustainable. Scottish Greens will continue to put forward constructive suggestions to improve it.”

 

Renewing Local Democracy in Scotland (Scottish Greens)

Joan McAlpine: Local councils do have the power.. they just don’t use it (Daily Record)

 

The SNP need to show confidence in our communities.
Alison Johnstone MSP

MEMBERSHIP SURGE SETS UP STRONG SCOTTISH GREEN MP CAMPAIGN

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

The Scottish Greens today (11 Jan) revealed that they expect to stand candidates in more Westminster constituencies than ever before, in part due to the recent surge in membership to almost 8,000.

Peter McColl Headshot 1

Edinburgh East is the Greens’ top target constituency in Scotland with university rector Peter McColl the party’s candidate. Edinburgh has a strong Green activist base, and has had MSPs since 1999 and councillors since 2007.

With all but a few local branches having selected candidates, it looks likely that the Scottish Greens will stand in around 30 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies. In 2010 the party stood in 20 seats.

A new survey of the Scottish Green party membership also reveals:

-One in ten members was previously a member of the Labour party.
-Over a third are aged under 30.
-A common theme from those who joined following the referendum is a desire for bold action to create a more equal society.

Greens are regularly polling ahead of the Libdems across the UK, with recent results as high as 9 per cent.

The “Green Surge” in membership to almost 8,000 has resulted in dozens of new local groups being set up across Scotland, and is mirrored by the Green Party of England and Wales who now have over 30,000 members.

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:

“The Green Surge means we’re in a great position to campaign in more parts of Scotland than ever, making the case for bold action to create a green and more equal society. We look forward to campaigning in key constituencies such as Edinburgh East on issues including a higher minimum wage and public ownership of the railways.

“The other parties’ unedifying scramble for tactical votes makes a mockery of democracy when there’s clearly a growing desire to vote for policies and people you can believe in. The positive track record of Caroline Lucas in Brighton shows that electing a Green MP gets results.”

Peter McColl, Scottish Green candidate for Edinburgh East, said:

“The Westminster election is shaping up to be a race to the bottom on who hates foreigners and people on benefits most. I, and the other Green candidates, will fight to make sure that the politics of equality and fairness are at the heart of the debate in this election.

“With Greens likely to play a greater role in this election than ever before, we will be working hard to make sure that our message on social and environmental justice is heard loud and clear.”

With Greens likely to play a greater role in this election than ever before, we will be working hard to make sure that our message on social and environmental justice is heard loud and clear.
Peter McColl