Michael Gove will give evidence to two Holyrood committees this week on the possible Brexit impact on key sectors of Scotland’s economy.
The UK secretary of state for the environment and rural affairs will appear via video link on Wednesday to answer questions from MSPs, with one warning that Scotland faced “real challenges” in how environmental issues are addressed when the country leaves the European Union.
Scottish ministers have previously raised concerns that Brexit may damage efforts to protect the environment, including tougher emissions reduction targets north of the Border.
Around 80 per cent of Scottish environmental law, including areas such as waste management, pollution, biodiversity and flooding, originates in the EU.
Mr Gove will give evidence to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee at 9.30am and the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee at 10.45am.
Gillian Martin MSP, convener of the land reform committee said: “It is clear that we are at a cross roads for the environment in Scotland. With Brexit and the ever-present risk of a no deal exit, there are real challenges facing how our environment is protected and managed.
“In addition to hearing whether the UK Government intends to legislate in this devolved area, we will explore issues we’ve been discussing with stakeholders around chemicals and waste.
“These will be subject to common frameworks – agreed with the UK Government and other devolved administrations – so it is important to hear the UK Government’s priorities and expectations. We want to ensure that the protections and regulations which govern these areas won’t be eroded, which could lead to chemicals classed as too unsafe to be imported into the EU could be brought into the UK, or that waste shipments won’t be halted.
“We will also seek strong assurances from the Secretary of State that the UK Government will not unpick the devolution settlement and will respect the Scottish Parliament’s legislative competence on environmental policy.”
Edward Mountain MSP, convener of the rural economy comittee, said: “The success of the farming and fishing sectors are crucial to rural communities across Scotland, and indeed the UK.
“Leaving the EU, and the terms on which we leave, matter deeply to these vital industries. The policies of both the UK and Scottish Governments will have real and tangible impacts on the prospects of Scottish fishers and farmers.”
Mr Gove, who is among the front-runners to replace Theresa May when she stands down, sparked anger among the Scottish Government earlier this month when he told a fringe meeting at the Scots Tory conference that UK ministers should be allowed to spend money directly in areas currently devolved to Holyrood.
The Aberdeen-born MP insisted his plan for Westminster to be allowed to spend Treasury funding in traditionally devolved areas would strengthen the Union.
It could see Westminster funding projects in areas such as education and farming.