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 2019)
“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 2019 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 25 October
- 12:00 Inverness Lunchtime for Climate
- Saturday 26 October
- 12:00 Forestry Commission Clootie Well clean-up
- NA CAB Craft & Food Fayre Alness
- 10:00 North Kessock Community Market
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