THE Scottish Government has admitted that it has “fallen short” of climate laws and said it will look to remedy the issue “as soon as possible”.

It comes after Good Law Project and the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS) raised concerns with Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan that the government had failed to publish reports detailing the impact of budget proposals on emissions.

The issue focused in particular on the “Infrastructure Investment Plan for Scotland 2021-22 to 2025-26”, which was published in February 2021.

Good Law Project said that, more than two years later, the government still hasn’t published an assessment of the plan’s climate impact.

READ MORE: Scotland forced to delay petrol car ban after Rishi Sunak's U-turn, SNP say

In a letter to McAllan dated September 4, the ERCS said: “There has been no publication of an assessment of the extent to which investment in accordance with the Scottish Ministers’ Infrastructure Investment Plan (‘IIP’) is expected to contribute to the meeting of the emissions reduction targets which are set out in [the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009].”

Section 94A of the act states: “Scottish Ministers must, at the same time as laying before the Scottish Parliament any document setting out draft proposals for the use of resources in any financial year, lay before the Scottish Parliament a document describing the direct and indirect impact on greenhouse gas emissions of the activities to be funded by virtue of the proposals.”

In a reply letter sent last week, the Government’s legal directorate said ministers accepted “that the documentation published to date falls short of the requirements” spelled out in that part of the act.

The directorate added: “Urgent work is underway on a remedy to ensure that the duty is discharged in full and as soon as possible.”

The National: Mairi McAllan

Good Law Project said it had asked the government “for further details by October 12, making clear both what it intends to publish and when it will be published”.

Emma Dearnaley, the group’s legal director, said: “Governments can try to duck and weave around their duties when their law breaking is revealed, so it’s heartening that the Scottish Government has owned up to its mistake and committed to correcting it quickly. We'll be keeping a close eye on this to make sure it follows through.

“With floods and fires sweeping across the world, there’s no time to lose in the fight against the climate emergency. The Scottish Government must now act with the urgency the crisis requires.”

Dr Shivali Fifield, chief officer at ERCS, said: “While it is promising that the Scottish Government has finally admitted their failure, it is extremely concerning that they are still needing time to publish a climate impact assessment for a plan that is already in progress.

“This breach only came to light because a concerned citizen contacted us. It shouldn’t be left to individuals to suss out whether Ministers are acting lawfully or adding fuel to the fire when confronting the climate crisis.

“It is now down to the Government to regain credibility and show that their spending decisions will deliver a just transition towards net zero.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish Ministers have accepted that the Infrastructure Investment Plan material published to date falls short of the statutory requirement to also publish an assessment of how the plan is expected to contribute to emissions reduction targets.

"Urgent work is underway to ensure that the duty is discharged in full and as soon as possible.

"The Scottish Government is also working with Environmental Standards Scotland to resolve this issue.”