A Scottish consultation on environmental principles and governance has raised concerns about the impact of Brexit on environmental standards in the UK.
A majority of respondents to the Scottish government’s Consultation on Environmental Principles and Governance, including local authorities, individuals, representatives of academia, private businesses and environmental campaigning groups, expressed concerns over the environmental impact of Brexit. Most respondents also indicated support for proposals by the Scottish government to implement ‘alternative arrangements’ to maintain high environmental standards after the UK leaves the EU, with many agreeing that Scottish policy should adhere to the EU’s four overarching environmental principles:
- The precautionary principle, aimed at preventing ‘serious or irreversible’ damage to the environment;
- The principle of preventative action, anticipating and averting environmental damage;
- The ‘rectification at source’ principle, which prioritises addressing the sources and causes of pollution and damage to the environment, rather than their effects; and
- The ‘polluter pays’ principle, holding bodies responsible for pollution accountable for controlling and remediating the pollution they cause.
Speaking ahead of a meeting of the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “The responses to this consultation show real concern about the impact of Brexit on environmental standards and enforcement. I am in Luxembourg with the message that Scotland and the European Union will continue to have a strong relationship, particularly in the crucial area of environmental policy. We do not want to leave the European Union; but if that does happen, we will not allow there to be any impact on environmental standards. We will ensure they are maintained, if not exceeded.
“All of these consultation responses will be carefully considered as part of our work to put in place alternative governance procedures for the environment, as outlined in the Programme for Government. I would like to thank everyone who responded to this consultation, in particular the young people of Sunnyside Primary School in Glasgow, and the Ullapool Sea Savers, some of whom I had the pleasure of meeting this year. Their passion for the environment is a reminder of our responsibility to protect the planet for future generations.”