A question - SNH funding shifts

Originally posted as a comment to another post, I was recently asked
"What are your views on the transfer of SNH funds, intended for Local Authorities, to be shifted directly into the Local Authority Core Settlements with effect from April 09? "

I've great respect for Scottish Natural Heritage. They have long been very effective partners for local authorities, and here in Aberdeenshire recently I have been very aware of their contributions
  • part funded Rangers
  • helping drive forward the Core Path proposals with ALOAF
  • and, of course, being a key objector in the Menie PLI.
The paper to the SNH Board correctly identifies the risks - funds once transferred to local authorities are not ring-fenced and therefore there can be no guarantee that spending on SNH priorities will continue. This fear is particularly acute as local authority spending comes under increasing pressure - e.g. Aberdeenshire is expected to need to make £10m of cuts in the 2010/11 budget. And as funding to the Scotland from Westminster comes under pressure as it will do, then the budget settlement to local authorities may get even worse.

The only control is the Single Outcome Agreement between councils and the Scottish Goevrnment http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/about/plans/SingleOutcomeAgreementMASTERJuly2008.pdf and I can see little in there that will ensure that monies will continue to be spent to protect, conserve and enhance the high quality natural heritage that so contributes to Aberdeenshire being regarded as a great place to live, work and visit.

So I am not optimistic .... particularly as those running both local and Scottish government seem to regard the environment as a poor third to the economy and social aspects when discussing sustainability (just where did the phase sustainable economic development come from?).

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