Representatives in sheep farming, game, river fisheries and coastal fishery sectors sent a letter to Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday.
They state that they have no evidence to trust that the Scottish Greens will safeguard jobs in their communities as part of any ‘Just Transition’ to Net Zero carbon emissions.
The 13 signatory bodies directly represent 6750 members in Scotland, all of whom operate in rural and coastal sectors sustaining 93 800 jobs.
Their plea to the First Minister comes on the day after The Scotsman newspaper highlighted concerns amongst the Green Party’s own membership about any deal with the SNP. ***
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, the National Sheep Association Scotland https://www.nationalsheep.org.uk/nsa-scotland/, The Game Farmers Association https://www.gfa.org.uk and 7 regional moorland groups https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEYjj25uYXg0cVpRlf6fXfQ all signed the letter.
A statement of support has also been pledged by the Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance https://www.cifascot.com
Signatories fear that any arrangement which offers the Green Party significant policy influence could lead to major job cuts, further erosion of community and greater social inequality.
The National Farmers Union in Scotland has also expressed its own concern regarding an SNP/Green pact, with farming supporting 67 000 Sottish jobs.
“We have no evidence available to us which enables us to trust the Scottish Green Party to commit to protecting jobs as part of any so-called ‘Just Transition’,” the joint letter stated.
“Removing the livelihoods of thousands of workers who have much to deliver is, in our view, not the solution to address a climate or biodiversity crisis, or the need to rebuild the Scottish economy, hit hard by the pandemic.
“Our combined memberships operate in sectors which generate hundreds of millions of pounds for the Scottish economy annually.
“Rural and coastal communities have already been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 and are additionally coming to terms with major changes following Brexit. There are also worries about the direction of future international trade deals in the farming world and genuine concerns over lack of clarity on the future of agriculture support payments.”
Signatories to the letter stated that they recognised the national endeavour of tackling climate change and believe they can offer much to the cause.
However, policies outlined in the Green manifesto at the recent election https://greens.scot/ourfuture, they said, would leave ‘major question marks hang over jobs, families, homes, communities and the collective futures of our memberships.’
Some of the principal concerns highlighted by the groups were fears over future food security, with productive land being swallowed up for large scale tree planting programmes potentially ‘in the wrong places’.
There are concerns over punitive prohibitions to sustainable fishing around coastal waters and uncertainty around future agricultural payments as farming comes to terms with Brexit and worries over international trade deals.
“It’s vital for us to highlight the importance of Scotland's sheep sector as a part of the solution to meet climate change targets set out by the Scottish Government especially at a time when UK government trade deals are putting our sector under serious threat,” said Jen Craig, National Sheep Association Scotland Chair.
Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said removing skilled workers in the game sector, which the Greens committed to doing in their manifesto commitment to end ‘blood sports’, would be ‘self-defeating’.
He believes gamekeepers, deer managers and ghillies have much to offer regarding climate and biodiversity and that Green policies would cause ‘untold harms’.
“We hope Scottish Government factor this into its thinking in any partnership discussions,” he said.
Dear First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP,
We write jointly to you with an urgent request that you prioritise safeguarding the employment of land, river and coastal workers in Scotland as you progress partnership discussions with the Scottish Green Party.
Our respective groups represent many thousands of workers who have given service, knowledge and skills to the cause and betterment of Scotland, and their communities, for centuries.
We respect your right to hold discussions with the Scottish Green Party or any other party, we understand and support the national priorities of addressing climate change and we feel our respective memberships offer much to the country in this joint endeavour.
We will not be able to participate fully, however, while major question marks hang over jobs, families, homes, communities and the collective futures of our memberships.
The Scottish Green Party have made public their opposition to sectors that they deem do not fit their vision of a Scotland tackling climate change. Therefore, the prospect of a party, with so little public voting support, potentially holding significant influence over key decisions affecting so many workers’ livelihoods is causing considerable cross-sector concern and many questions.
We have no evidence available to us which enables us to trust the Scottish Green Party to commit to protecting jobs as part of any so- called ‘Just Transition’. No concrete solutions have been offered, to date, for the people at the sharp end who are making a living in rural and coastal Scotland but could potentially stand to lose much if Green policies are delivered. We also understand the concerns amongst workers in the oil and gas sectors whom we have also communicated with.
The Scottish Greens’ election manifesto commitments will tear some sectors, such as game and angling, apart. They have not endeavoured to engage with workers in all sectors or heard the steps signatories have already taken to help Scotland on its climate journey and what these organisations can do in the months and years ahead.
There are considerable concerns regarding future national food security and the planting of millions of trees in the wrong places, seemingly with inadequate oversight. This will impact upon opportunities for future generations of farmers whilst changing Scotland’s landscapes and biodiversity forever. There are major worries regarding punitive prohibitions to sustainable fishing around coastal waters and further erosion of livelihoods in coastal communities.
Our collective view is that, if afforded too much influence, the Scottish Greens’ policy priorities will devastate already fragile communities, instigate a major job cuts programme, worsen social inequality and the mental health of workers who already feel under persistent pressure from the extent and direction of environmental aspirations which are often driven, sometimes with little consultation, by powerful NGOs.
Removing the livelihoods of thousands of workers who have much to deliver is, in our view, not the solution to address a climate or biodiversity crisis, or the need to rebuild the Scottish economy, hit hard by the pandemic. Our combined memberships operate in sectors which generate hundreds of millions of pounds for the Scottish economy annually.
Rural and coastal communities have already been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 and are additionally coming to terms with major changes following Brexit. There are also worries about the direction of international trade deals in the farming world and genuine concerns over lack of clarity on agriculture support payments.
We ask you to provide solemn assurances to signatory parties that Scottish Government will not sacrifice our members’ livelihoods and futures in any power sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens and that you will protect their interests and what their vocation means to them, their families and the cultural heritage of Scotland.
We ask also that you instruct your Ministers to engage with any signatory parties, who have to yet been involved in climate/biodiversity discussions, to hear their views and consider what they can deliver to Scotland on the journey to Net Zero, whilst still continuing to prop up the economies and communities in which they serve.
We wish you all the very best in the coming Parliament and look forward to hearing from you in due course.
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association
National Sheep Association, NSA Scotland
*Statement in support pledged from coastal fishery members of Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance
SGA Fishing Group
The Game Farmers Association (UK)
Scottish Field Trials Association https://www.scottishfieldtrialsassociation.co.uk
Angus Glens Moorland Group
Grampian Moorland Group
Southern Uplands Moorland Group
Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group
Loch Ness Rural Communities
Speyside Moorland Group
Tomatin Moorland Group
These members work in sectors which jointly support 93, 800 jobs in Scotland and represent 6750 members in Scotland.
Some Further Reading: Concern at Ayrshire tree planting scheme:
Aquaculture concerns at SNP/Green pact:
Concerns at whole farm afforestation:
Chris Packham hits out at wrong trees in wrong places.
***Green Party members urge party not to deal with SNP
Former SNP Health Secretary wary of SNP/Green deal.