Protecting the environment after Brexit

Consultation gives support to Scottish Government proposals.

Brexit threatens to have a negative impact on environmental protection, according to consultation responses published today.

Most respondents to the consultation on Environmental Principles and Governance raised concerns about the impact on environmental standards once the UK leaves the EU.

There was widespread support for the Scottish Government’s plans to establish alternative arrangements to uphold standards, and for the creation of a duty on Scottish Ministers to maintain the four EU environmental principles when setting policy. 

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.”


The Consultation on Environmental Principles and Governance ran from 16 February to 11 May. An analysis of responses can be read here.  

The four EU environmental principles are:

• the precautionary principle. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation
• the prevention principle. Preventative action should be taken to avoid environmental damage
• the rectification at source principle. That we should seek to prevent pollution at its source rather than remedy its effects
• the polluter pays principle. The polluter should bear the cost of pollution control and remediation


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