Tory manifesto to call for added spending on energy efficiency

RUTH Davidson will launch the Conservative manifesto for Holyrood with a call for £1 billion to be spent over the next five years to ensure every home in Scotland is warm.

Ruth Davidson will launch the manifesto. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Ruth Davidson will launch the manifesto. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Tory manifesto will propose spending on energy efficiency should rise from less than 3% of the Scottish Government’s capital budget to 10% by the end of the next parliamentary term.

That would see funding rise from £80 million this year to £340 million by 2020-21, and would amount to £1 billion over the period, according to the Conservatives.

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The Tories are hoping to have their best result in a Holyrood election on May 5, with Ms Davidson setting her sights on her party becoming the second largest in the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking ahead of the launch she said: “Today’s manifesto is packed with fresh ideas that we believe can make a positive contribution to our country.”

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Ms Davidson added: “We believe that making every home a warm home should be one of the Scottish Government’s key priorities for infrastructure over the next five years.

“A real focus on this would cut fuel poverty, increase jobs, and would do so much to help us meet our carbon reduction obligations.

“It’s an example of the kind of positive contribution we want to make to Scotland over the next five years.”

She also stressed: “We will say no to another referendum on independence, and we will counter the SNP on their plans to break up Britain.

“That way, as a party of opposition, we will seek to focus the government on the things that matter - on schools, on hospitals and on housing.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will insist it is only by backing the SNP that voters can get a government that will stand up for Scotland against Westminster.

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The SNP leader will hit out at the Conservative’s “austerity” politics as she campaigns in East Kilbride.

She will say: “In government in Scotland, and leading the opposition in Westminster, the SNP have stood stronger for Scotland and against the austerity agenda of the Tory Government.

“By giving both votes to the SNP, the people of Scotland can elect a government which will always stand up for Scotland’s interests.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale will highlight her party’s opposition to fracking - the unconventional extraction of oil or gas - as she campaigns outside Edinburgh.

Labour’s manifesto, which has still to be published, will include a complete ban on the controversial practice in Scotland, according to the party.

Ms Dugdale said: “The scientific evidence is clear: our climate cannot stand another fossil fuel, that’s why a Scottish Labour Government will ban fracking. No ifs, no buts, no fracking with Scottish Labour. We will use the powers to ban fracking in Scotland.”

She said the SNP had refused to match that and had only committed to a temporary freeze, with Ms Dugdale demanding: “Nicola Sturgeon needs to be clear - if the report she commissioned says fracking is safe, will she give it the green light? If not, why not?”

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Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will attack the Conservatives over taxation.

Mr Rennie, who will take to the water for a canoeing trip in Fife, said: “People are rightly angry that so many of the wealthiest in our society have fiddled the system to avoid paying their taxes. Taxes pay for our schools, for hospitals, roads and other public services. Whether we are talking about wealthy individuals or big companies, people should not be allowed to cheat the rules.

“We need to hear from Ruth Davidson why her party thinks that tax cuts for the rich should be a priority when so many of those at the top are gaming the system to line their own pockets.”