By Bill Heaney
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was accused of being smug, irresponsible and incompetent by LibDem leader Willie Rennie during a debate about land waste dumping.
Mr Rennie, pictured right, said: “The Scottish National Party Government passed a law that bans sending biodegradable waste to landfill from 2021. However, according to an astonishing report by the Office for Budget Responsibility, which was published yesterday, the Scottish Government has admitted that it can meet that legal deadline only by dumping the waste in England. Is that environmentally responsible?”
Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament: “We are committed to the 2021 target. Some councils already have plans in place to meet it. Other councils need to do more work and we are working with councils to responsibly and appropriately deal with waste, as everybody expects us to do.”
West Dunbartonshire, Argyll and Bute and Inverclyde Councils have made it known that they intend to take a joint approach to the dumping of biodegradable waste, although the trade unions have expressed concern about shared services and their impact on jobs.
This follows the financial collapse of Greenlight which looked after two rubbish container sites at Dalmoak in Dumbarton and Old Kilpatrick.
Ms Sturgeon said she was happy to ask Roseanna Cunningham, left, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, to discuss further with Willie Rennie the precise plans that are required “so that we can all get behind the target and see it being met”.
Mr Rennie said that was “all very clear” from the OBR report – “The Government is making a bit of a habit of breaking its own laws: the SNP national health service waiting times law has been broken for 190,000 patients; the SNP class sizes law has been broken for 4,500 children; and we now find that the SNP Government is about to break its own law on waste.
“The First Minister is right to be appalled by the chaotic Conservative Government over Brexit, but her smugness about the incompetence of the Conservative Government cannot hide her incompetence in her own back yard.
“Law after law has been broken by this failing Government. What sums up her Government best—thousands of pupils overcrowded, hundreds of thousands of patients waiting or a million tonnes of rubbish?”
She responded: “It is hard to understand how we can be accused of breaking a law that is not due to even be in force until 2021.
“We are working towards delivery of that with our local authority partners. It is a very important objective, and it is an important responsibility that will be difficult and complex to deliver on, as many things are, but we will continue to work with our local authority partners, because that is the right thing to do.”
The First Minister then switched her attention to Mr Rennie’s concerns about hospital waiting times and education.
She said Jeane Freeman, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, right, has recently published the waiting times reduction plan.
Ms Sturgeon added: “We are investing £850 million to make sure that waiting times are reduced in the areas where there is significant pressure, which comes from an ageing population and greater demand on our national health service.
“There are more teachers in our schools—there are now more teachers in our primary schools than at any stage since I was at primary school in 1980. There are, I think, 1,200 more teachers in our schools than there were when I became First Minister.
“Unlike the UK Government, which has completely ceased to govern in any meaningful sense, we are getting on with the important issues in our environment, in our health service and in our education system, and that is exactly what we will continue to do.”