Environmental principles and governance after Brexit: responses to consultation

An analysis report on responses recieved as part of the Consultation on Environmental Principles and Governance in Scoltand, which ran from the 16 February to 11 May 2019.

Appendix 11: Chapter 4, Q9

Inclusion of all policy areas

Singular comments in relation to including all policy areas are listed below.

  • A suggestion that all work carried out by the SG and local councils should be scrutinised
  • For a full alignment to the National Performance Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals
  • A suggestion that there must be careful consideration around the scope of scrutiny arrangements so as not to exclude a potentially relevant matter - the respondent gave an example of a role that could relate to matters around agriculture which are relevant to environmental law and a limited role in relation to planning policy as it relates to areas of environmental responsibility, including Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

Additional policy areas

Twenty-eight respondents offered suggestions for other policy areas to include within the scope of any scrutiny arrangements. These are summarised in the table below.

Policy Area Suggested No. times suggested
Noise pollution and light pollution 11
Historic environment 4
Agricultural 4
Spatial planning and development 3
Protected areas, marine and terrestrial 3
Wellbeing (link between societal mental, physical and emotional health and habitat quality) 3
Waste and the circular economy 3
Access to the natural environment including parks and green spaces 3
Nanomaterials 3
Pathogens 3
Land use planning 3
Citizens' rights enshrined in the Aarhus convention 3
Protection of EU and Scottish habitats and species 2
Trade (how sustainable and climate-change positive is Scotland's trade, e.g. palm oil) 2
Protection and enhancement of habitats providing numerous environmental services e.g. peat bog 2
Integration 2
Aquaculture (GM technologies, pathogens and welfare issues) 2
Forestry (impact of coniferous plantations on water quality and biodiversity) 2
Protection and enhancement of Dark Sky areas 2
Tourism 2
Genetically modified organisms 2
Landscape 2
Ecological expertise in the workforce 1
Land abuse (farming, deer stalking, goose shooting) 1
Packaging 1
Biodiversity duty 1
Sustainable management (ensuring other authorities adhere to high environmental/biodiversity standards) 1
Climate change (link between habitat quality and carbon storage, marine and terrestrial) 1
Freshwater quality (a review of priority substances needs to be made on the basis of preserving invertebrate populations) 1
Pesticide use (catastrophic influence of pesticides on invertebrate populations and subsequently higher trophic levels e.g. birds) 1
Renewables 1
Rural 1
Transport 1
Air quality (including inside buildings) 1
Food production and security 1
Soil 1
Energy policy 1
Biosecurity 1
Disease control 1
Wildlife management 1
Invasive non-native species 1
Environmental nuisance 1
Fossil fuel extraction (how it exacerbates climate change and phasing it out) 1
Incentives for eco-system restoration (reforestation and species enhancement/protection) 1
Assessing EU and worldwide changes in environmental scrutiny 1
Protection of sustainable use of natural resources (94) 1
Cultural heritage (archaeology and built heritage) 1
Planning policy and legislation (not planning process, as existing institutions are adequate in delivering scrutiny in these areas) 1
Dredging (legal and illegal) 1

Reflections on policy

Specific singular comments on policy were made as listed below.

  • Discussion of the creation of a new Environment Act for Scotland and a suggestion this would allow the many and diverse issues affecting environmental quality to be embedded in domestic law
  • A suggestion that broader scrutiny of Scotland's performance against domestic environmental legislation and strategies as currently provided by Parliamentary Committees, may be further considered in terms of ensuring a proportionate and efficient oversight of Scotland's environmental and compliance performance
  • A suggestion that any new body created for scrutiny and assessment arrangements should have the powers to scrutinise how environmental principles are applied, alongside non-regression or dynamic alignment requirements in terms of UK-wide obligations or Scotland-specific commitments regarding EU environmental policy
  • For a full alignment to the National Performance Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure a joined-up approach to policy
  • A reflection that currently, at EU level efforts have been made to integrate environmental protection requirements including environmental principles, such as the precautionary principle, into areas of law and policy and the importance that any scrutiny arrangement considers the environmental integration principle
  • Recognition that it is important to manage policy coherence for multiple benefits, particularly where there may be policy gaps, and that it is important for the approach to environmental governance to consider how different policies interact - including gaps and how policy arrangements could be improved
  • The importance of cross border collaboration within any new scrutiny and enforcement arrangements, that any new body should maintain close linkages and cooperation with EU Bodies, and that if this approach is not adopted, there should be duties on each of the relevant institutions
  • The monitoring of nature and biodiversity in that it is often focused of designated sites, with suggestion that it would be practical to consider how monitoring is extended to other areas.


Comments on the need for greater clarity are listed below.

  • A suggestion that the list provided represents existing policy areas but that clarity would be helpful as to where or how these relate to relevant policies
  • Examples of specific areas that require clarification; that nano-materials and GMOs are included, marine matters, and a need to clarify the position in relation to matters such as agriculture, forestry and planning, where there is a clear environmental dimension to some, but not all, aspects of the area
  • Utilising a definition of the environment that covers all environmental legislation and requirements - and concerns about the approach to scoping taken in DEFRA's Draft Environment Bill, principally the deliberate exclusion of climate change from the remit of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) and the purported omission (according to the explanatory notes) of planning - and that clarity must be provided about the jurisdictional remits of both proposed Scottish arrangement and DEFRA's proposed OEP
  • Clarification on how far planning falls within these arrangements as this could provide an opportunity to hold all jurisdictions to account for the design and policies of planning systems
  • A suggestion that it would be helpful to clarify: 1) that the SEA is specifically included in the 'environmental impact, access to environmental information and environmental justice' policy area 2) and that 'water environment and flooding' includes water quality and water resources.


Points that did not align with the other themes discussed in response to this question are listed below.

  • A discussion around aquaculture and a request for cost-effective regulation by ensuring those who operate in Scotland's waters subsidise the cost of regulation. The respondent suggested that the cost of carrying out the research needed to provide the 'scientific scrutiny' required by the precautionary principle should be included in that subsidy
  • An offer of support to the SG in the creation and development of the scrutiny framework
  • A discussion of the wider issue of alignment and interpretation of EU law and policy, with a suggestion that this is a political decision and depends on whether Scotland considers itself an environmental world leader
  • Support for the inclusion of matters relating to climate change, as many environmental issues which are not primarily about climate nevertheless impact climate. This includes a published understanding with the Climate Change Committee on how it will work in collaboration with the new arrangements to avoid duplication.


Email: fiona.eddy@gov.scot

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