AN aristocrat Tory MSP and landlord has admitted to having failed to do his homework before taking control of a key Holyrood committee on the environment.

Edward Mountain, who owns a number of cottages in Moray, became convener of the Net Zero Committee of MSPs, which seeks to scrutinise the Scottish Government in its environmental policy and efforts to tackle climate change, after Dean Lockhart's resignation.

But in one of his first acts as the head of the group, he admitted he had not fully caught up with the work it had been doing prior to him joining.

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He said he had neglected to read fully the 11 verbatim transcripts of the committee meetings on the role of councils, charities and NGOs in reaching net-zero targets and appeared to imply they were too dry to hold his interest.

“I will make an admission to you,” he said. “I haven’t the official report for all of your meetings but I think it was [former leader of Edinburgh city council] councillor McVey who said in the first one that there was an elephant in the room when it came to this subject.

“Well, I’m going to say my elephant in the room is that reading 11 meetings worth of officials report is a bit like a Jacob’s cracker – very tasty to start with but it can only be done in small doses, so it will take me a bit of time to get through the official reports and I apologise if it takes me slightly longer but if you try reading them, you’ll see why.”

Declaring his interests today, the Highlands and Islands MSP, whose full title is Sir Edward Brian Stanford Mountain, 4th Baronet of Oare Manor and Brendon in Somerset, gave an account of the businesses in which he is a partner.

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He drew the attention of other members to his full register of interests which are available on the Scottish Parliament website.

According to the register, he owns 14 properties some of which he rents out, which earns him up to £70,000 per year before outgoings.

He also owns a dog kennels, with an estimated market value of up to £50,000, a farm house worth up to £100,000, and a 50% share in a fishing company worth up to £8.3 million before the pandemic, the register shows.

Mountain also holds shares in the multinational bank HSBC worth £55,588.

The Conservative-chaired Net Zero Committee chair role was previously held by Dean Lockhart, a former MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife who quit politics earlier this month.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said: “The Tories have no interest in tackling the climate crisis or reaching the world’s net zero ambitions, so this admission should come as little surprise given the Prime Minister’s recent announcements over oil and gas, fracking and other disastrous decision making.”