"Scotland's new Environment laws must be strengthened"
This is the view of environment campaign group Fight for Scotland's Nature, following the publication of the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill in June.
They complain that the ability of organisations or individuals to raise formal complaints against specific examples of environmental damage will be diminished; that the watchdog body Environment Standards Scotland to be set up under the bill will not be sufficiently independent of government; and that there is no requirement for Scottish environmental standards to keep pace with possible changes in EU regulation, and no specific provision to prevent standards being rolled back.
Read Fight for Scotland's Nature's article 'How good are Scotland’s new draft environment laws?'
Committee's concern about bringing back powers from EU
Holyrood’s Environment Committee says a unanimous ‘no’ to consent to the UK’s Environment Bill
In a report published today, Holyrood’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee calls for powers which fall within devolved competence, including environment policy, to return to the Scottish Parliament on EU exit day.
The report, which details the committee’s consideration of the legislative consent memorandum (LCM) for the UK Environment Bill*, specifically queries why environmental powers in devolved competence should be made via UK, as opposed to Scottish, primary legislation.
The committee believes that the Bill as it stands would allow the Scottish Parliament limited scope to influence decisions on devolved policy, to scrutinise relevant legislation and its implementation and therefore, effectively hold Scottish Ministers to account.
In advance of a debate on the motion to be held in the Scottish Parliament, the committee is writing to both the UK and Scottish Governments asking for a full explanation of the rationale for sharing powers via legislation in the UK Parliament, as opposed to the Scottish Parliament.
Critical points from the Committee's report are
The Committee recognises that primary legislation is required – as a result of EU exit and the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 – to make provision, and where appropriate to delegate power to Ministers to make regulations, in those areas of law currently within the EU competence.
The Committee believes that powers which fall within devolved competence, including environment policy, should return to the Scottish Parliament on exit day. The Committee is, therefore, unclear why environmental powers in devolved competence need to be made via UK primary legislation, as opposed to Scottish primary legislation. Provision via Scottish primary legislation would enable full Scottish parliamentary scrutiny and accountability of the legislative proposals and, thus, respect the devolution settlement.
The Committee recommends the Scottish and UK Governments provide a full explanation of the rationale for sharing powers via legislation in the UK Parliament, as opposed to the Scottish Parliament, in advance of the debate on the motion.
Earth Day 50th anniversary 22 April
This year is the 50th anniversary of the setting up of Earth Day Network and the first Earth Day. There seems to be surprisingly little on the websites earthday.org and earthday.org/earth-day-2020 about the world in relation to the coronavirus crisis, but there are plenty of links to follow on a wide range of topics, including
Campaigners welcome new Scottish environment strategy
Statement from Fight for Scotland's Nature 25 February 2020
New environment watchdog must have teeth, say charities
Scotland’s leading environment charities have welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement today of a vision and outcomes for an environment strategy, applauding the government’s commitment to restore nature and end Scotland’s contribution to climate change.
They have called on the government to back up this commitment with legally binding targets for nature recovery and an action plan for delivery.
The charities, members of Scottish Environment LINK, also welcomed the announcement of a new environment watchdog to oversee compliance with environmental law, but cautioned that the new body must have real independence and power to protect Scotland’s iconic nature.
Scottish Government 'Vision and Outcomes' document
Other Scottish Government environment publications to download
Fight for Scotland's Nature
From Miriam Ross
Campaign coordinator, Fight for Scotland’s Nature
2020 is going to be a big year for Scotland’s nature. We believe Scotland can set its amazing wildlife on the road to recovery.
With your help, we’ve been campaigning for a Scottish Environment Act to ensure Brexit doesn’t unravel crucial environmental protections. The UK government’s Brexit deal could leave the nature we all love open to new threats if standards are lowered.
It’s more urgent than ever that the Scottish Government embeds key environmental principles in Scots law and sets up a new, independent environment watchdog for Scotland. We’re pushing hard on these demands, and we’ll keep you posted.
But with 1 in 9 species in Scotland now at risk of extinction, fighting to keep the protections we had as EU members will not be enough. Fight for Scotland’s Nature is calling on the Scottish Government to set clear, legally binding targets to halt and reverse the loss of species and habitats, on land and at sea.
We believe 2020 is the year we can make this happen.
From the John Muir Trust website
Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 – Get Involved
Scotland's Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 is an opportunity to highlight the nature, history and culture of shorelines and waterways.
Coasts and Waters are places to feel good, be healthy, be curious, be inspired and be creative. They are places where we can think about, and act on, bigger picture matters too - such as biodiversity, sustainability, climate, and our place in the world. Celebrate their potential for learning and adventure, their value as a resource, and their aesthetic inspiration.
. . . . .
Get Involved (free download) - information, resources, organisations and activities - ideas and links to help you get involved… Starting points for finding out and doing things – dive in!
Do we have a right to a healthy environment?
A Research Briefing published by the Scottish Parliament reports that
"The First Minister's Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership recommended that a new human rights framework for Scotland should include a "right to a healthy environment". Recognising the human right to a healthy environment in constitutions is a common practice around the world. Over 100 countries have a constitutional right to a healthy environment."
Doubts over effectiveness of new environment 'watchdog'
Proposals for an environment Bill originally introduced in the UK parliament in 2018 and included in the recent Queen's speech include the creation of an Office for Environmental Protection. This would be "a new world leading independent regulator . . . to scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action."
But since the Bill was introduced, fears have been voiced that environmental protection will be weakened as a result of Brexit, and doubts expressed by environmenal groups and mainstream journalists about the likely effectiveness of the prposed legislation, and the independence and powers of the new regulator.
Greener UK said (December 2018)
“There is a real sense of ambition in this announcement, with ministers acknowledging the need to put the environment at the heart of government.
“Yet without further work environmental protection will be weaker. If the government decides its budget, and appoints its officials, how can the new watchdog challenge ministers effectively? And without establishing strong legally binding targets for things such as water quality, how can we properly hold the government to account on leaving our environment in a healthier state?
“If we get it right, this bill could provide the turning point to reversing environmental decline.”
The Government's 2018 proposals and reactions to them were summarised by the Guardian's Environment Editor Damian Carrington in a December 2018 article under the headline
"Post-Brexit green watchdog could sue ministers, says Gove"
"But Green groups say proposals will mean weaker protection for nature after UK leaves EU"
No Environment Act in Scottish Government's year plan
Fight for Scotland's Nature has emailed expressing disappointment at the Scottish Government's failure to include a Scottish Environment Act in its legislative plans for the coming year.
"With your help we’ve been calling for a Scottish Environment Act to make sure Brexit doesn’t roll back crucial environmental protections. Disappointingly, the Scottish Government’s plan for the coming year, published in September, didn’t include an Environment Act. But it did contain proposals for some of the measures we want to see in an Act – so we are making progress. We believe Scotland needs a dedicated Environment Act to restore and protect the nature we love, and we’re determined to keep pushing!
"The Scottish Government knows the public cares about this. Last Friday it published analysis of its consultation on how to protect the environment after Brexit, to which thousands of us contributed by emailing Nicola Sturgeon earlier this year. 70 per cent of respondents called for future environmental policy to be guided by internationally renowned EU environmental principles – one of our key demands. Thank you for adding your voice to the campaign!"
Read more about the results of the consultation.
Campaign for Scottish Environment Act
TBI was one of over fifty signatories to a letter sent to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon by the umbrella organisation Scottish Environment Link, requesting the introduction of a Scottish Environment Act "that makes Scotland’s vision to be an environmental world leader a reality."
In July the First Minister responded with a summary of various aspects of the Scottish Government's environment strategy, but without giving any undertaking on the introduction of a Scottish Environment Act.
You can read the full story on the Scottish Environment Link website, with links to the SEL letter and Nicola Sturgeon's reply, as well as to the Scottish Government's declaration of a climate emergency and a major UN report on biodiversity.
- Friday 15 January
- 19:30 TBI Gardeners Quiz Night online
- Saturday 16 January
- 10:00 Culbokie outdoor market resumes
- Monday 18 January
- 13:00 Highland Good Food Conference - Session 2
- Thursday 21 January
- 19:00 Release of 'This Good Earth' documentary
- Monday 25 January
- 13:00 Highland Good Food Conference - Session 3
- Tuesday 26 January
- 19:30 Economics for Activists 3 - Beth Stratford
- Monday 1 February
- 13:00 Highland Good Food Conference - Session 4
- Thursday 4 February
- 09:30 SFHA / Changeworks virtual conference - 'Housing now, Housing's future'
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