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Scottish parties deal over transport and climate change

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CLIMATE CHANGE and transport infrastructure are dominating discussions between the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party following last week's election.

As NCE went to press, discussions were continuing on an agreement known as 'confidence and supply' which has been used before in Europe.

The two elected Green MSPs would vote with the administration in confidence on budget votes and most legislation in return for policy concessions.

The results of the election were close. The SNP received 47 votes and the Labour Party 46, losing its majority in Scotland for the first time. The Conservatives won 17 seats, the Liberal Democrats 16 and the Green Party just 2. There was also one independent.

It seems likely that a minority Scottish National Party administration will run the Executive meaning that major infrastructure schemes could be affected.

SNP leader Alex Salmond said of the agreement with the Green Party: 'We may have to differ with the Greens on some transport proposals such as a Forth crossing.' It is thought that the SNP favour a tunnel for the crossing and want to make an announcement as soon as possible.

The Green Party do not want to see two crossings in operation. Their support for a new crossing is dependent on it being a replacement. Green Party coleader Robin Harper said 'We cannot ask them to abandon manifesto commitments but we are looking for a 'green gain' by which we negotiate a shift or development of policy' Originally SNP Leader Alex Salmond had hoped to form a coalition administration with the Scottish Liberal Democrats but their leader Nicol Stephen said after the two met that 'unless and until the SNP removes the fundamental barrier of a referendum on independence during the next four years there can be no coalition. Our position on this will not change.' Most of the infrastructure projects earmarked for the 20072011 parliament already have legislative approval so their future is dependent on funding.

A minority SNP administration would be able to withhold funding from schemes they oppose.

This would include the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link and the Edinburgh tram. However support from Labour and the Liberal Democrats would ensure that the decision would come in for some lively debate.

Overall changes could still be afoot. More than 80,000 ballot papers were disqualied after the two parliamentary votes were put on the same ballot paper in contravention of expert advice. Legal challenges to some of the closest results are now possible.

The Welsh Assembly elections saw Labour win most seats - 26 out of 60 - and it's now looking to lead a joint government with either Plaid Cymru (15 seats) or the Liberal Democrats (6 seats).

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