PATRICK Harvie has said he will use his influence inside Nicola Sturgeon’s government to deliver Green policies in next month’s Budget.

Speaking to The National at the start of COP26, the Scottish Greens co-leader was asked what he was doing to ensure his party's demands were included in Finance Secretary Kate Forbes’s statement in December.

While reluctant to go in specific detail during the interview Harvie, whose ministerial portfolios include for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights, underlined Greens’ commitment to cut the cost of public transport for all Scots.

"I hope you won't mind, but I'm going have to say 'watch this space' as a government minister now you wouldn't expect any government minister to start talking about private conversations that happen before the budget is published," he said.

"But you can be absolutely confident the Greens as a party will push for exactly the sort of policies that we have already been pushing for."

The Greens when in opposition in the last parliament used their leverage over the SNP minority government to successfully push ministers during the budget negotiations to bring in widespread reforms to income tax and also secured free bus travel for under 22s from January next year.

The National pressed Harvie on whether his party in government would exert the same level of influence over the SNP with two Green ministers now in the adminstration. He insisted the impact inside the government would be greater.

"I think we are going to have a more successful opportunity case for Green transformation whether that's in budgets or any other part of government policy as part of government and have more of an impact than we ever did before," he said.

He was asked by this paper about the high cost of rail fares in Scotland – with an off peak return rail fare between Glasgow and Edinburgh now costing £13.70 and an anytime return costing £26.60.

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The fare would mean that a worker on the living wage working eight hours a day and having to travel at peak times would have to pay 38% of his or her gross salary simply getting to and from work.

“In terms of affordability, we are creating and then expanding the free bus travel for young people,” he said.

“We now have a commitment to the ‘fair fares review’ which is going to look at the wider public transport costs. It’s a really important area where we are looking at issues, not just around poverty and inequality, but also transport accessibility in some parts of Scotland.

“The investment in rail is going to be substantial.”

The National also asked him on why Scotland’s major cities did not have a smart card for people to make public transport cheaper and more accessible. Cities such as Barcelona and London have had such a measure in place for many years with users able to use the card across different modes of transport including buses, trams and trains.

Harvie replied: “The question about Smart cards is a really important one and I see a lot of people talking about the fact there is a temporary system for the COP delegates but why do they not have that for people in Glasgow.

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“I want us to do more and I want us to do better on that. If you are doing something on a temporary basis for the COP delegates it’s a small amount of capital one off spending ... if you want to make it permanent for people in Glasgow that means ongoing revenue costs. Where does the money come from? What do we do on road pricing?”

He added: “You can rest assure we will be pushing as far and fast as we can on that whole agenda.”

On pushing for cheaper public transport cheaper for all Scots and not just people under 22, he said: “The shared policy programme does include those specific commitments, first of all on bus travel for young people.

"Secondly, on fair fares review, which will make public transport more affordable for everyone and on investment to make sure it is available around the country.”