RBG Edinburgh wins through with £600k boost in rare piece of budget good news

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) has escaped last month's comprehensive spending review and received a £600,000 increase in funding, despite preparing for cuts of 25 per cent.

As reported in Horticulture Week on 12 November, RBGE had drawn up plans to reduce its opening hours and close external sites if its Government grant was cut. But the 2011-12 draft budget released by the Scottish Government last week revealed an increase in RBGE funding from £11.3m to £11.9m in a bid to ensure continued research into international plant diversity.

Regius keeper Professor Stephen Blackmore said: "I think ministers have recognised that we need to spend more on glasshouse maintenance so the increase falls under our capital budget. It’s only a one-year budget so it’s important for us to see it as a superb opportunity to keep going with some of the changes here."

However, a £1.3bn reduction in Westminster funding to Scotland has resulted in a 13 per cent cut in funding for housing and regeneration as well as a reduction in local authority spending of 7.5 per cent per annum over the next four years.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, national park authorities and agricultural and horticultural advice and support services have all had their budgets cut.

The Scottish Government has committed £53.5m for investment in the Forestry Commission and Forest Enterprise to meet its climate change delivery plan objectives to increase forestry planting rates to 10,000-15,000ha per year by 2015.


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