Brexit: Repeal Bill ‘puts environment in Scotland at risk’

The Scottish Government says efforts to protect Scotland's environment will be undermined by Brexit. Picture: Ray Cox
The Scottish Government says efforts to protect Scotland's environment will be undermined by Brexit. Picture: Ray Cox
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The legislation to formally remove the UK from the European Union risks undermining environmental progress in the devolved nations, Scottish and Welsh ministers have warned.

The two governments have raised concerns that the EU Withdrawal Bill will damage efforts to protect the environment, including tougher emissions reduction targets in Scotland.

Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and her Welsh counterpart Lesley Griffiths renewed fears the Bill would result in a “power grab” by Westminster, ahead of a meeting in Cardiff.

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The UK Government has insisted the legislation will not be altered to set out which powers returning to the UK from Brussels would be devolved to Holyrood, despite SNP ministers warning the Scottish Parliament is unlikely to grant the Bill legislative consent in its current form.

Ms Cunningham highlighted that around 80 per cent of Scottish environmental law, including areas such as waste management, pollution, biodiversity and flooding, originated in the EU.

She said: “My message has been clear and consistent - the Scottish Government will steadfastly adhere to its environmental commitments, despite the growing threat of a hard Brexit.

“That is why we are joining with our Welsh counterparts to urge the UK Government to ditch this ill-conceived power grab.

“Imposing a UK-wide framework for the environment risks undermining the significant progress Scotland has made, which has seen us win international recognition for our work on climate change and the circular economy.”

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Ms Griffiths added: “Devolution has enabled the Welsh Government to deliver ground-breaking legislation for the people of Wales, which delivers on international obligations and has been recognised as cutting-edge by a number of international institutions.

“The approach presented by the UK Government in the Withdrawal Bill could significantly undermine this progress.

“Our approach has not been about trading off agriculture and the environment, it’s about both. You can’t have one without the other.

“The Bill as it stands has the potential to seriously impact on this approach by locking us into an outdated framework while also removing our ability to bring forward reforms.”