Scottish Environment LINK, a coalition of 35 Scottish environmental charities, has welcomed the much-awaited Scottish Government consultation on environmental principles and governance in Scotland. At a time of great ecological crisis, the charities believe that the prospect of Brexit threatens to unravel critical environmental protections, and are urging members of the public to respond to the consultation through an online petition calling for a Scottish Environment Act.
Charles Dundas, Chair of Scottish Environment LINK, said: “We are pleased that the Scottish Government has taken this critical first step to consult on how to protect our environment from the risks of Brexit if and when this happens, but also on how to ensure future policies deliver on our shared goals of protecting and enhancing our natural environment.
“The Government has reconfirmed its existing commitments, but now we urgently need new concrete proposals to protect our right to a healthy environment. These must lock in and build on the full spectrum of EU protections. Through the Scottish Government’s consultation, we have the opportunity to take heed of the dangers affecting our natural environment and to push for a world-class Scottish Environment Act. Only when we have that commitment do we have a fighting chance of preventing further environmental degradation and unprecedented levels of species decline.”
LINK members are confident that responses to the consultation will reveal the need for Scotland to have its own Environment Act. This is why through the joint campaign Fight for Scotland’s Nature, the charities are urging Scottish Government to put forward a Scottish Environment Act that:
- Embeds EU and international environmental principles in Scots law,
- Creates an independent and well-resourced watchdog to enforce environmental law in the same way that the European Commission and European Court of Justice do today, and
- Sets clear and ambitious targets for environmental protection alongside adequate financial resources.
Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau, said: “Environmental issues such as biodiversity loss, climate change and air pollution don’t stop at borders. Whatever the outcome of the Brexit discussions, Europe’s environmental organisations want to see high standards for the environment, and for citizens’ rights on environmental matters, maintained across Scotland, the rest of the UK, and the EU. Scottish Government commitments are welcome but now is time for real action.”
Joyce McMillan, President of Scottish Environment LINK, said: “This consultation will determine the strength of our environmental protections during the vital decade ahead, and will therefore play a key role in shaping the future of Scotland’s natural environment, so essential to all of us, our future, and our well-being. It will also help define the role we are able to play in ever-more-crucial international efforts to protect our planet from the threat of environmental degradation and climate breakdown.
“Every one of us must therefore send a clear message to the Scottish Government and the First Minister that the need to protect our environment is not an option, but an absolute necessity for a healthy and sustainable future for Scotland and its people. I urge everyone to sign our petition, and join the fight for Scotland’s nature. With 1 in 11 species in Scotland at risk of extinction, we cannot afford to see any reduction in environmental standards. On the contrary, we need to take radical steps to strengthen the protections that will ensure a long-term future for the rich and wonderful natural eco-systems on which all of us, and the plants and animals we care for, finally depend.”
The Scottish Government consultation on the future of Scotland’s environment is open for consultation until 11 May and the Fight for Scotland’s Nature petition on this can be found at www.fightforscotlandsnature.scot/action/.
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Notes to Editors(s)
(1) Scottish Environment LINK is the forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment community, with over 35 member bodies representing a broad spectrum of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society.
LINK is a Scottish Charity (SC000296) and a Scottish Company Limited by guarantee (SC250899). LINK is core funded by Membership Subscriptions and by grants from Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Government and Charitable Trusts.
(2) For more information about Scottish Environment LINK’s campaign, Fight for Scotland’s Nature, visit www.fightforscotlandsnature.scot.
(3) The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is the largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations in Europe. It currently consists of around 150 member organisations in more than 30 countries (all EU Member States plus some accession and neighbouring countries), including a growing number of European networks, and representing some 30 million individual members and supporters. For more information, please visit: https://eeb.org/.
(4) On 16 February 2019, the Scottish Government issued a consultation on environmental principles and governance. The consultation document can be accessed here: https://consult.gov.scot/environment-forestry/environmental-principles-and-governance/.
(5) To support the Fight for Scotland’s Nature petition, please visit www.fightforscotlandsnature.scot/action/.
(6) Scottish Environment LINK members wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham to ask her to support a Scottish Environment Act. The letter is available here: https://www.fightforscotlandsnature.scot/news/environmental-charities-call-for-scottish-environment-act/.