Scottish Green gains are changing the conversation

Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, reflects on this year’s historic election success. There’s little time to celebrate, she says, as the party pushes on to affect change.

Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie
Lorna Slater

5 May was a day of record results for our party and our movement. Here in Scotland, we almost doubled the number of Scottish Green councillors and secured a record number of votes. 

These results reflect the hard work and dedication of our fantastic candidates and the hundreds of Green activists who knocked on doors, delivered leaflets and shared our positive vision for change.

We now have our first ever councillors in areas like North Lanarkshire, Shetland and the Scottish Borders, which have never elected Greens before. This will allow us to take our vision to new communities and change the conversation in town halls and city chambers across the country. 

In the areas where we already had Green councillors, such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Highlands, people saw the impact of Green voices around the table, and we delivered notable gains.

It is also a reflection on the impact that we are having in government, and the role that Greens have played in driving social and environmental change.

In January, we delivered free bus travel for everyone under 22. This week saw the publication of figures that show that in the four months alone over 300,000 young people have signed up for cards and eight million free journeys were taken. 

Every single one of these journeys has helped to cut our carbon emissions, as well as keeping money in people’s pockets during a cost-of-living crisis. It is opening the country up to young people and their families and making Scotland more accessible. By investing in buses, we are investing in our future. 

This is just one of the changes we have delivered that will see Green MSPs and Green councillors working together to benefit people and the planet.

There was little time for celebrating the election results. It’s been a particularly busy time for Greens in the Scottish Parliament.

One of the first things I did after becoming Minister was to commission a review of incineration in Scotland. This month, I was proud to publish the results. The investigation suggested several things, among which was that planning permission should not be given to new incinerators in Scotland.

I will provide a full response on behalf of the Scottish Government in the weeks ahead, but, in the meantime, we will continue to emphasise the role of reusing and recycling to meet our goals and protect our environment.

One way that we are doing that is through the establishment of a bold and ambitious Deposit Return Scheme. This month we secured funding for the project, which will be introduced next August. This scheme will allow us to work with local authorities, businesses, and communities to recycle billions of cans and bottles that are bought in Scotland every year.

We are also working to protect, preserve and promote Scotland’s iconic wildlife and nature. We have introduced a £65 million Nature Restoration Fund that will be used to fund local projects and protect our species, woodlands, rivers, and seas. 

On top of this, we will be expanding our National Park network. It has been 20 years since Scotland last established a National Park, and that is why, in my role as Minister for Green Skills, circular economy and biodiversity, I was delighted to announce that the Scottish Government will be creating at least one more National Park by 2026. 

If you are in Scotland, then please fill in the consultation and let us know what you want from your National Parks. 

These are all important changes that will help us to build a fairer, greener, and better future for Scotland. Whether it is in the Scottish Parliament or in our councils, Greens are thinking globally, acting locally, and delivering for our communities.