Environmental governance in Scotland after Brexit: report

A study on the possible issues relating to future environmental governance in Scotland on the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

2 MO and methods used

2.1 The work of the group for this report builds on the previous work of the Round Table and was undertaken following an initial scoping meeting on 19 January 2018 primarily through three working meetings (2 February, 6 and 13 March) and correspondence principally during February and early March. We also acknowledge the value and utility of a range of resources [3] , including: UKELA's report series on 'Brexit and Environmental Law' [4] ; RSPB Scotland's unpublished discussion paper on the opportunities for strengthening enforcement of environmental laws in Scotland; the SULNE Report edited by Cardesa-Salzman and Savaresi [5] ; and Greener UK's report, on 'The Governance Gap' [6] in shaping our consideration and findings.

2.2 The group developed a framework approach to assess the governance status and issues across areas of environmental law. The following areas were considered:

Nature Conservation and Biodiversity

Air Pollution Emissions, Transboundary Pollution and Climate Change issues

Environmental Impact, Access to Environmental Information and Environmental Justice

Marine Environment

Nuclear and radioactivity issues

Waste and Circular Economy

Water environment and Flooding

Chemicals, biocides and pesticides

General Governance

2.3 These areas were mapped against current legislative and governance arrangements, focusing on what happens and needs to happen at the Scottish level, when and if EU-level arrangements are removed. Hence, we considered the policy issues in summary terms in the following ways, first:

International framework and existing governance

European framework and existing governance

Any UK framework and existing governance, where possible indicating if these were established and operated through legislation, MoU or other administrative arrangement between UK nations.

Any Scottish framework and existing governance arrangements

For each policy area we also sought to capture key "other" issues, including connections with other policy areas as well as relevant financial and political considerations.

It was also acknowledged that the level at which governance was operationalized was important. For example, there could be a requirement to report performance internationally but the data might be collected and reported at a devolved, UK or EU level.

2.4 After completing this initial stage, we focused on identifying potential gaps, asking the following questions under each heading:

Implementation of environmental law and policy.

  • Will there be gaps that would result from the UK's exit from the EU?

Monitoring, measuring and reporting on the state of the environment

  • Will there be gaps in current arrangements following the UK's exit from the EU? Consideration was also given to the review and reporting of information regarding both the state of the natural world and performance against policy objectives as well as the publication of such information.

Checking compliance with environmental law and policy

  • Will there be gaps in processes and arrangements to check and ensure compliance with environmental law and policy that would result from the UK's exit from the EU? This included consideration of the ability of citizens and civil society organisations to raise complaints and/or seek investigations.

Enforcing environmental law

  • Will the UK's exit from the EU result in gaps to appropriate enforcement of environmental law and policy to address any lapses in implementation and/or compliance, including the application of appropriate remedies and sanctions? This included consideration of the ability of citizens and civil society organisations to request enforcement.

Institutional co-operation

  • Will the UK's exit from the EU result in gaps through loss of access to specialist co-operation bodies, networks and agencies relevant to environmental law? This included consideration of the loss of functions including the facilitation of cross-border co-operation, policy and best practice exchange as well as the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental law.


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