THE Scottish Greens are gathering in Dunfermline for their annual conference this weekend.

Here we look at some of the key announcements by party co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie as they addressed members today. 

Council tax reform

In the run-up to conference, the Scottish Greens co-leaders had expressed concern over the announcement by Humza Yousaf that council tax will be frozen next year to help people with the cost of living crisis. Harvie told delegates gathered in Dunfermline that they had since secured “recognition” from the First Minister that reforming the tax now needs “momentum”.

He said Green MSPs will secure agreement on a timetable and a way of working for this so that a “firm” alternative is put forward by the end of the current Scottish Parliamentary term in 2026.

Cruise ship levy

One of the headline-grabbing announcements was a plan to introduce a charge for cruise ships visiting Scotland, including giving local councils the powers to charge the “most polluting” ships more. Announcing the move, party co-leader Lorna Slater said it was “essential” with a typical ship producing the same amount of carbon emissions at 12,000 cars.

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Carbon land tax

Plans are also under way to introduce a local tax which was proposed by Scotland’s Climate Assembly to encourage landowners to manage their land in the wider public interest. Slater announced the Scottish Government will begin to “explore” the idea and other policy options with the aim of restoring peatlands and creating more woodland.

Boosting solar generating capacity

The Scottish Government’s forthcoming Energy Strategy and Just Transition plan – which is due to be published by next summer – will contain a “bold deployment ambition” to have at least four – but up to six – gigawatts of solar power by 2030. Party co-leader Slater said this would be ten times the current solar generating capacity.

Energy standards for rented homes

In his conference speech, Harvie attacked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for scrapping energy standards for private rented homes – and pledged the Scottish Government would not be doing the same. He said he would be taking through a bill through the Scottish Parliament which would include new regulations to ensure landlords invest in “warm and healthy homes”.

Ferry scheme for under-22s

There were also fresh pledges on transport, including the extension of the National Ferry Concessionary Travel Scheme to all young people under the age of 22 who live on Scottish islands. The current scheme covers 16-18 years olds and provides a set number of journey to the mainland every year.

Free buses for asylum seekers

Another announcement on transport was that the next Scottish budget will provide £2million to allow asylum seekers in Scotland to access free bus travel. Harvie cautioned that this would take time and need careful consideration in light of “hostility” from the UK Government towards asylum seekers.