Scotland needs its own Environment Act
80% of Scottish environmental protections stem from EU legislation, and the positive impact of these safeguards on our natural environment is unquestionable.
Yet our amazing wildlife and landscapes are under increasing threat from pollution, loss of habitat and climate change. Today, 1 in 9 species in Scotland is at risk of extinction.
The UK’s exit from the EU endangers our ability to protect and restore our environment. At this critical time for nature and climate we need to maintain and build upon crucial environmental protections beyond Brexit.
We need a Scottish Environment Act that will:
Embed key environmental principles in Scots law
Four key legal principles have guided EU policy making on the environment. As a result of EU membership, these principles have been applied by courts, businesses and governments in their decision making. They form an essential component of environmental law.
Scotland’s environment has been shaped by these principles, from action on genetically modified crops and fracking to the introduction of a deposit return scheme and measures to tackle climate change.
The four principles must continue to form the basis of Scotland’s environment policy beyond Brexit. To do so, they must be legally binding.
Create an independent and well–resourced watchdog to enforce environmental protections
Environmental protections are only as strong as the mechanisms that ensure they are upheld.
Leaving the EU means Scotland and the rest of the UK will lose the oversight and enforcement roles of the European Commission, European Court of Justice and other EU bodies.
These institutions have performed key functions from reviewing, monitoring and reporting on the state of the environment to investigating potential breaches of environmental standards, ensuring enforcement and applying sanctions in cases of noncompliance. They have played an invaluable role in giving a voice to the public on environmental matters and holding governments to account.
Set clear targets for environmental protection alongside adequate financial resources.
We need to stop and reverse the loss of our natural environment. Experience shows that legally binding targets provide a clear direction for government and stakeholders such as businesses and other operators.
We need to build on the Scottish Government’s commitment to bring forward the first Scottish Environment Strategy and ensure that its provisions are legally binding through a Scottish Environment Act.