Leading conservation charities in Scotland have written to Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, calling for the Scottish Government to commit to maintaining protection for the environment following the vote to leave the European Union.
For more information about the Trust's view on the implications of the vote, you can read a blog by our Chief Executive Jonny Hughes here.
Open Letter to Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
Environmental legislation in Scotland
We write following the dramatic events of last week. In advance of the referendum, we were pleased to see that you highlighted the benefits to wildlife and the environment of European legislation.
These are uncertain times. Yet, nature conservation and the environment remain a devolved matter – and nature does not respect jurisdictional boundaries.
This is especially crucial for Scotland’s biodiversity – where the conservation of species and sites, environmental assessment, and improvements to water quality have all been underpinned by European laws. In addition, European regulation is crucial to the protection and enhancement of our marine environment, and management of fisheries.
Notwithstanding the Scottish Government’s position in seeking to remain with the EU in some form, these are uncertain times. Yet, nature conservation and the environment remain a devolved matter – and nature does not respect jurisdictional boundaries.
In such circumstances, the Scottish Government is able, if it wishes, to indicate a desire – and policy position – to maintain, or even improve, the standards of protection afforded to our outstanding wildlife. This would both be desirable and consistent with the Government’s commitment to both the global biodiversity targets agreed in Japan and the Sustainable Development Goals, to which Scotland was an early signatory.
We hope that you can be explicit that, despite the uncertainties, the Scottish Government does not see “Brexit” as an opportunity to de-regulate and weaken environmental targets or legislation. In particular, we would welcome a public statement that signals commitment to the Nature, Water and Marine Directives in Scotland – whatever the outcome of coming discussions.
This would be consistent with the Scottish Government’s European aspirations, as well as your earlier statement that the natural environment is one of Scotland most precious assets and how it is managed, controlled, conserved, promoted, supported and developed matters hugely to the Government’s ambitions for our country
We look forward to such an announcement. Given public interest in this and other current events, we are making this letter public and copying it to members of the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Climate Change and Land Reform Committee.
Scottish Wildlife Trust
Head of Conservation Scotland
Marine Conservation Society
Head of Plantlife Scotland
Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust
The National Trust for Scotland