The SNP has outlined ambitious plans to tackle the climate crisis and build a fairer country in its Programme for Government 2019-20.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has welcomed the bold proposals set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday, which include a £500million investment in public transport, delivered through a Bus Partnership Fund for local authorities, to help fight global warming.

Meanwhile, a Green New Deal will harness the power of the Scottish National Investment Bank to attract £3billion of investment for green projects.

The SNP Government also confirmed that the Scottish Child Payment, a new benefit to address child poverty, will be launched earlier than previously announced, with the first payments being made by Christmas 2020.

Other commitments include:
– Decarbonising Scotland’s railways by 2035.
– Developing regulations so that all new homes from 2024 must use renewable or low-carbon heat.
– Putting in place a plan to address women’s health inequalities.
– Providing an additional £20million to help tackle the drugs death emergency.

The Programme for Government also includes a Circular Economy Bill to reduce waste by encouraging the reuse of products, a Bill to provide for the ability to maintain alignment with EU law in devolved areas after Brexit, as well as a Bill to increase the maximum penalties for the most serious animal welfare offences.

Mr Matheson said: “The SNP has achieved a huge amount in Government. The last year alone saw record NHS funding, brand-new benefits being delivered through the Scottish Social Security Agency and increased teacher numbers and pay.

“Our plans for the year ahead centre on ambitious proposals to tackle climate change and build a fairer country. The £500million investment in improved bus priority infrastructure, which is aimed at getting more motorists to switch to public transport, won’t only tackle congestion and pollution but is also great news for major local employer Alexander Dennis, which is at the forefront of providing the low and zero-emissions buses that will drive this initiative forward.

“Amid the meltdown at Westminster, Scotland has a Government and a Parliament that is facing up to the vital issues facing our country and getting on with the job of improving lives in Falkirk district and across Scotland.

“Unfortunately, the threat posed by Boris Johnson’s plan for a no-deal Brexit, which will put many jobs and livelihoods in Falkirk district at risk, remains – but the SNP Government will do everything we can to keep Scotland moving forward.”