THE Scottish Government accepted £5 million from oil giant Shell to help fund a tree-planting programme which forms part of its climate strategy, it has emerged.

Shell said it would give the money to Forestry and Land Scotland to plant or regenerate one million trees over the next five years, to help offset approximately 20% of its petrol and diesel sales at UK service stations.

Scottish Green land reform spokesperson Andy Wightman accused the Scottish Government of being “in bed with the big businesses responsible” for fossil fuel use.

“First, we saw how BP sponsored a discussion on how to reach net zero at SNP conference, and now we see Shell funding the Scottish Government’s reforesting efforts. This is not meaningful action to address the climate crisis, it is greenwashing, pure and simple.”

He continued: “The SNP’s commitment to reforesting is already pitifully slow – it will take 150 years for them to reach the European average of tree cover – but now we learn that is to be bankrolled by one of the biggest polluters on the planet.

 “Offsetting the vast amounts of carbon drained out of the ground by oil giants is not enough. We need to empower communities to lead reforestation efforts while transitioning away from oil and gas. Let’s not pretend Shell has any interest in a Scottish Green New Deal.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “Forestry and Land Scotland will use this funding to plant more trees and restore more peatland, helping to meet our climate change targets.

“Meanwhile, the Scottish Greens abstained in voting for the world’s most ambitious climate change legislation and aligned with the Tories to block measures in the forestry bill to allow compulsory purchase of land for creating more woodlands.”

Simon Hodgson, CEO of Forestry and Land Scotland, commented: “Tackling the climate emergency involves a global effort – concerted, co-ordinated action across a range of approaches, including carbon capturing natural solutions, such as peatland restoration and woodland creation.”

“Scotland’s shared national endeavour of woodland creation is an intrinsic part of that global effort and working in partnership will help to increase the impact of our collective efforts. Shell’s partnership investment to create new woodland and help to regenerate Scotland’s forests and land, will play a vital role in helping us to realise our plans to create more woodland and help Scotland to achieve its ambition to be a net-zero emission country by 2045.”