More than 22,000 people, including primary school children, have written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon calling for a Scottish Environment Act to protect Scotland’s nature and ensure Brexit doesn’t roll back crucial environmental protections.
The calls come at a time of renewed focus on environmental issues, with the Scottish Government committing to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, reversing plans to cut air passenger duty and announcing a deposit return system for drinks containers.
But campaigners fear that with 80 per cent of Scotland’s environmental protections stemming from EU membership, Brexit could unravel much of the legislation that helps us safeguard our wildlife and take action to tackle problems like air pollution. This could be detrimental at a time when our environment is in crisis, in Scotland and across the globe.
Jade of Sunnyside Primary School in Glasgow wrote to the First Minister saying: “Nature gives us everything we need and everything we have so it would be mad not to have laws to protect it.”
Haris of Hillhead Primary School also in Glasgow said: “I am only 10 years old and I feel very worried about what’s happening to nature. It’s not fair that children my age might never see the amazing wildlife that adults have taken for granted. Scotland needs strong laws to help stop this before it’s too late.”
A Scottish Government consultation seeking views on the measures that will be required to ensure that environmental standards are retained in the event of Brexit closed on 11 May. Environmental charities, wider civil society, businesses, academics and young campaigners took part.
Charles Dundas, Chair of Scottish Environment LINK, said today: “With 1 in 11 species in Scotland, both plant and animal at risk of extinction, we cannot afford to roll back on our environmental protections. Given the prospect of Brexit and the uncertainty this creates, we fully support the Government’s ambition to retain and build on existing EU protections. Now that this important consultation has closed we hope to quickly see a clear plan for action emerge.”
He added: “As the First Minister said last week, we must ensure that our actions produce the transformative change needed to protect our natural environment. It is therefore critical that any action we take to safeguard Scotland’s nature from the risks of Brexit also acknowledges the wider ecological crisis our nature is facing. A Scottish Environment Act would build on existing Government commitments on Brexit and help protect and enhance Scotland’s nature, now and in the future.”
Scottish Environment LINK, a coalition of over 35 leading environmental charities launched the campaign, Fight for Scotland’s Nature, to call for Scotland to have its own Environment Act. Together, they want an Act to embed EU environmental principles in Scots law, create an independent watchdog to enforce laws, and set clear targets for environmental protection.
(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) The Scottish Government consultation on environmental principles and governance closed on 11 May. The consultation paper is available at https://consult.gov.scot/environment-forestry/environmental-principles-and-governance/
(3) More information about the Fight For Scotland’s Nature campaign can be found at www.fightforscotlandsnature.scot
(4) The petition calling on the First Minister to act with urgency to better protect Scotland’s nature through a Scottish Environment Act was run by Scottish Environment LINK and its members, with support from campaigning organisation 38 Degrees. A total of 22,181 people took part in the petition.