The Scottish Government is facing legal action over claims that it has failed to set out how its ambitious climate change targets are compatible with massive infrastructure investment.
The Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS) and Good Law Project are threatening a judicial review over a potential breach of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.
The legislation states that when announcing major infrastructure investments, ministers must publish an assessment showing how they will impact targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
In a letter to Net Zero Secretary Màiri McAllan, lawyers acting for the two groups point out that that no such assessment has been released in relation to the Scottish Government’s Infrastructure Investment Plan, more than two years after it was published in February 2021.
The document set out how ministers planned to spend £26bn on infrastructure over the next five years, covering everything from housebuilding to improved schools, road maintenance and broadband connectivity.
In their legal letter, the two groups say they have taken advice on a possible judicial review and have been advised that it would have “good prospects of success”.
They also give the Scottish Government a deadline of the end of this month to publish a climate assessment on its infrastructure plan if it wants to avoid legal action.
Dr Shivali Fifield, chief officer at the ERCS, said: “By failing to publish a climate impact assessment for its Infrastructure Investment Plan, the Scottish Government is leaving citizens in the dark, with no way to keep check on whether public money will be spent on projects that drive up carbon emissions.
“To the Government we say: show us your homework. Too many times, you have over-promised and under-delivered, and in a climate emergency, the stakes are too high for wishful thinking.”
Emma Dearnaley, legal director at the Good Law Project, added: “The Scottish Government says it is committed to reaching net zero. But it’s breaching its own climate legislation that sets the emissions targets needed to get there.
“It’s one thing to make climate commitments – it’s another to deliver on them. So it’s vital we can all see if the Government’s investment plans clash with its plans to tackle the climate crisis.
“There’s no time to lose in the fight against irreversible damage from global heating. That’s why we won’t hesitate to bring a legal challenge if the Scottish Government doesn’t publish these crucial climate assessments.”
The Scottish Government was approached for comment.