We welcome the opportunity to give our views on this subject, and respond to the consultation questions below. We also endorse the response submitted by Scottish Environment LINK.

We support the call from Scottish Environment LINK and others to introduce an Environment Bill as a matter of priority. As a minimum this should aim to:

  • embed environmental principles in Scots law, with a duty to base policy and legislation on these applicable to any public bodies and its functions,
  • introduce a duty to maintaining or exceeding EU environmental policy and standards, or international best practice, as it evolves
  • set up scrutiny mechanisms to enforce environmental protections, including a role for an independent watchdog and a specialist environmental court or tribunal
  • establish a duty to have an environmental strategy with appropriate reporting mechanisms

At a time when we are facing the interconnected challenges of climate emergency and impending biodiversity collapse, strong environmental protections have never been more urgently needed. It is critical that the Scottish Government ensures that EU protections are wholly and robustly replaced at the Scottish level.

The Scottish Government must be prepared for interim measures from October this year in the event that a ‘no deal’ Brexit is the eventual outcome.

We note that even if Brexit is cancelled there are deficiencies in our compliance with international environmental law under the Aarhus Convention which need to be remedied. An environmental court or tribunal is the obvious way to address the most serious of these deficiencies, to better enable citizens to exercise their rights – and responsibility – to defend the environment.