Andy Myles: Our landscape and heritage are referendum issues too

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WE HAVE heard, from all sides of the constitutional debate, how their favoured solutions will improve Scotland.

All too often though, the policy consequences have been sketchy or non-existent. For example, the question as to whether independence or staying in the Union would best protect and enhance our natural environment, needs to be answered.

We all want to see a flourishing Scotland, but it’s time for those campaigning for the constitutional options to tell us in some detail why their schemes will meet the wide range of aspirations of the people of Scotland. These aspirations are, for the most part, not constitutional, but economic, social and environmental.

The constitutional question cannot be seen in isolation from the substantive issues that are central to Scotland’s future. What’s the point of changing the constitution if nothing else changes?

From an environmental perspective, we face many pressing and urgent issues of substance, such as combating climate change and the loss of biodiversity, and many people want to know how the constitutional solutions on offer will make a real difference in tackling these issues. Scottish Environment Link has issued a major policy challenge to the constitutional campaigns – tell us why your option for change best meets our aspirations – and will publish the replies on our website so that our members and other interested citizens can read them before they make their decision on referendum day.

In our leaflet we set our vision of a sustainable Scotland – including sustainable development to improve people’s lives, fighting climate change and protecting and enhancing our natural heritage. Our alliance of 34 environmental and heritage organisations wants the campaigns for each of the constitutional options to tell us how and why their preferred option will best meet each of the ten aspirations in the leaflet.

There’s no doubt that the constitutional issue is of great importance. Link cannot and does not seek to hide from this or to change it – but the debate must not be held in a policy vacuum.

• Andy Myles is parliamentary officer at Scottish Environment Link.