Scottish election: Green policy and business on agenda

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Scots politicians have used Climate Change Day to launch green policies as campaigning continues ahead of the 5 May Holyrood election.

Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott launched the party's £250m home insulation plan in Fife, while the Greens campaigned on policies to tackle climate change.

The Tories and SNP focused on providing support for small businesses.

And former chancellor Alistair Darling said Labour would put families first during tough economic times.

Mr Scott said his party's home insulation fund would boost the energy efficiency of thousands of homes, including private sector rented accommodation and hard-to-treat properties.

"People all over Scotland are facing an impossible choice between heating their homes and providing their families with the basics they need," he said.

"The plan we have launched today will help lift people out of fuel poverty, cut their heating bills and provide some help in tough times."

The Scottish Greens have outlined its five most important policy changes needed if climate change is to be tackled globally.

The party wants the fund for community-led carbon reduction projects to be increased to £125m, a move away from road and air travel and annual emission-cutting targets to be raised to 4.5%.

The Greens also want the country's electricity supply shifted to a "broad mix of renewables by 2020" and all homes insulated.

Meanwhile, Conservative finance spokesman, Derek Brownlee, was campaigning in Haddington, with a pledge to allow charities and small firms to bid for a percentage of all tenders for public sector projects.

"Our aim is for 25% of local and national government contracts to be awarded to small and medium sized enterprises, which will help create the jobs of the future" he said.

"Scotland's voluntary sector deserves more opportunity as well - many of them have strong local roots and specialist knowledge and may be better placed to deliver services than the public sector ever could be."

'Real squeeze'

Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, visited an internet marketing company in Edinburgh, said to have benefited from the Scottish government's small business bonus scheme.

"Small businesses are the lifeblood of the Scottish economy, and they have a huge role to play in our continued recovery," he said.

"Over the last four years, the SNP has slashed or totally scrapped business rates for around 80,000 small and medium-sized companies right across the country and we will extend that help for a further five years."

Campaigning in Edinburgh, Mr Darling said a Labour government at Holyrood was the strongest defence against UK government spending cuts.

"When times are tough, Labour believe you should help families through, not leave people to suffer," said the MP, adding: "The Tory choice to cut further and faster will mean a real squeeze on families."

Mr Darling said Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray was, "the right man, not just to stand up to the Tories, but the right man for Scotland".

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