The Scottish Government’s newly announced agri policies have drawn criticism as the SNP and Green party coalition abandons its climate change targets.

Speaking at Holyrood, net zero secretary Mairi McAllan, pointed to the findings of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) which found the Scottish Government’s targets could not be achieved.

Ms McAllan said: “In light of the UK-wide CCCs recent rearticulation that the 2030 target for emissions reduction is not achievable, this will no longer be a statutory target.”

READ MORE | Scottish Government unveils new policies impacting agriculture

As part of the announcement, the minister unveiled a suite of new policies, with a key focus on land use, agriculture, peatland, energy, and transport as she underlined the coalition’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2045.

Rural organisation Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) accused the Scottish Government of negatively impacting the sector.

Policy director Stephen Young said: “Renewable energy on estates accounts for around 60% of Scotland’s generating capacity.

“Large-scale peatland restoration projects – such as those carried out on rural estates – account for 57% of the peatland that has been restored since 2013. Since 2015, 45,000ha of woodland has been planted on private estate land with support from the Forestry Grant Scheme.

“That is before we consider the wider economic contribution of rural estates, as well as their role in maintaining Scotland’s food security.

“Independent research has shown that land ownership and use at scale is essential to undertake these types of projects successfully in pursuit of addressing climate change.

“It would appear the Scottish Government is seeking to punish those who are already making the greatest contribution.”

Mr Young also expressed concern about the proposed carbon land tax on larger landholdings and questioned how it would work in practice and said its impact on food production and economic activity in rural communities would have to be considered.

Scottish Tory rural affairs spokesperson described the climbdown as a ‘total embarrassment’ for the Scottish Government.

She said: “For years, they have demanded our farmers progress towards their net zero targets, without giving the sector the tools to do so.

“Now they have scrapped their climate targets – which they never tired of saying were world leading – yet are asking farmers to shoulder their burden once more.

“Typically under this SNP-Green government, a new tax seems to be one of their only answers, rather than taking positive measures to support the sector in the years ahead.

“It is astonishing how they still will not give the green light for Scottish farmers to use gene-editing technology, while if they want to cut emissions they should adopt our 60/60 procurement policy.

“Scottish farmers cannot continue to be asked to do their job with one hand tied behind their back. In the wake of this humiliating climbdown, SNP-Green ministers work constructively with the agriculture industry, rather than putting more obstacles in their way.”

NFU Scotland welcomed the change in policy and said the sector is ‘building the resilience required to continue to deliver high quality agricultural production, whilst ensuring that we play our part on mitigation and adaptation.’

However, vice president Alasdair Macnab warned: “Scottish Government must also look to science to ensure that the current over-emphasis on emissions and a lack of emphasis on sequestration is addressed.”