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.

1. Introduction

1.1 The Consultation on Environmental Principles and Governance in Scotland ran from the 16 February until 11 May 2019 and sought to gather views on how we maintain effective environmental governance following exit from the European Union. The consultation received 99 direct responses from a range of individuals and organisations. In addition to this, the consultation received 12,051 e-action responses as part of the campaign led by Scottish Environment LINK entitled, 'Fight for Scotland's Nature'.

1.2 The four EU principles guide policy making in the EU. EU environmental law is shaped by the four environmental principles and has a significant influence on domestic policy and legislation. EU membership has also provided a framework for monitoring, measuring and reporting on environmental outcomes, alongside the provision of scrutiny and enforcement at the supranational level.

1.3 Given the uncertainty about the future relationship between the United Kingdom (UK) and EU, the SG is taking a proactive approach to provide clarity for Scotland. As stated in the consultation, the Scottish Government has already made a commitment to maintain Scotland's distinctive approach to environmental protection and to maintain or exceed existing environmental standards.

1.4 Views gathered in the consultation will inform the development of future environmental governance arrangements based on careful systematic exploration of the evidence.

1.5 The consultation contained thirteen questions that covered the following themes:

  • The role of environmental principles in developing future policy and legislation
  • Maintaining effective, appropriate and proportionate environmental governance in Scotland

Profile of respondents and engagement with the consultation

1.6 In addition to the 12,051 e-action responses, the consultation received 99 direct consultation responses from 40 individuals and 59 organisations. The range of organisations that participated are shown below:

  • Twenty-four membership organisations such as; Scottish Environment LINK, RTPI Scotland and Oil and Gas Scotland
  • Twelve third sector organisations or campaign groups such as; Ullapool Sea Savers, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Keep Scotland Beautiful
  • Five local authorities including Scottish Borders Council and Aberdeen City Council
  • Five businesses such as; SSE ltd. and Scottish Power
  • Three academic or research bodies such as the James Hutton Institute
  • Three Non-Departmental Public Bodies, including Historic Environment Scotland
  • Two public corporations
  • Two international membership organisations such as the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment
  • One Commissioner and one Ombudsman.

1.7 Participants provided responses to the discussion through the online platform Citizen Space (76 responses) or by emailing or posting their responses to the Scottish Government (23 direct consultation responses plus 12,051 e-action responses).

A primary school submitted posters, letters and postcards in response to the consultation. These are examples from pupils in P2 and P5.


1.8 The Scottish Government ran three stakeholder workshops[2] during the consultation period. These provided another platform for stakeholders to share their views including those with day-to-day experience of existing regulatory regimes. Group discussions identified where there was a general consensus, mixed views and any areas of disagreement among different organisations and sectors. Where relevant, emerging themes and main views expressed in the workshops are referenced in this report.

Approach to analysis and reporting[3]

1.9 Given the level of detail included in the responses it is only possible to provide a high-level summary of themes within this report. The report presents analysis of responses and findings as follows:

  • Chapter 2 presents analysis relating to Environmental Principles (Q1-Q4)
  • Chapter 3 presents analysis relating to monitoring, measuring and reporting (Q5, Q6)
  • Chapter 4 presents analysis relating to scrutiny of performance (Q7, Q8, Q9)
  • Chapter 5 presents analysis relating to considering complaints (Q10, Q11)
  • Chapter 6 presents analysis relating to enforcing action (Q12, Q13)
  • The final chapter contains conclusions and reflections for consideration.

1.10 Individual responses to the consultation, where permission for publication was granted, can be reviewed on the SG website[4]. We note this report should be read in conjunction with the consultation document, available online[5]. Appendix 2 provides a quantitative summary of responses and Appendix 16 lists the consultation questions.

Campaign response

1.11 In addition to the 99 responses, the consultation received a total of 12,051 e-action responses as part of the campaign. The key points raised in the campaign responses are noted where relevant in this report.

1.12 The campaign to 'Fight for Scotland's Nature' was co-ordinated and promoted by 37 environmental charities in Scotland - members of Scottish Environment LINK - to gather support for a Scottish Environment Act. Members of the public were able to access standardised response wording (see below) and use this to submit an individual campaign response to the consultation.

1.13 10,380 of the campaign responses received used exactly the wording as outlined below, with a further 1,671 using this wording and personalising their response with additional comments.

Dear First Minister,

I don't want to see a roll-back of environmental protections in Scotland as a result of Brexit. With 1 in 11 species in Scotland at risk of extinction, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has rightly said that we cannot afford to 'turn back the clock' on environmental protections.

As your Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership recommended, we need to protect our right to a healthy environment. To achieve that, we must safeguard and build on existing EU protections.

We therefore need a Scottish Environment Act that:

  • embeds EU and international environmental principles in Scots law so that they can underpin all environmental decision-making.
  • creates an independent and well-resourced watchdog to enforce environmental protections in the same way that the European Commission and Court of Justice do today.
  • sets clear and ambitious targets for environmental protection alongside adequate financial resources.

I urge the Scottish Government to put forward a dedicated Environment Act that protects and enhances Scotland's nature, now and in the future.

Please treat this email as a response to the consultation Environmental Principles and Governance in Scotland. I'm responding as an individual and am happy for my response to be published without my name.

Yours sincerely,


Email: fiona.eddy@gov.scot

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