David Ross

There will be a huge drive within the UK Government to rip up laws which
protect nature, prevent pollution and set standards for a clean environment
following Brexit, a leading Scottish conservationist is warning.

The Scottish Parliament will today debate the potential impact of Brexit on
the environment and climate change.

Dr Richard Dixon Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland said MSPs had to
be vigilant: “The UK is currently supposed to contribute to meeting
European climate, energy efficiency and renewable energy targets. After
Brexit we will need to agree new climate targets with the United Nations.
Scotland’s targets are already significantly more ambitious that the
current overall UK targets but any agreement with the UN may be on the
basis of those weaker UK targets, reducing the drive for a low-carbon economy.

“After Brexit, there will be no compulsion on the UK to set any targets for
energy saving or green energy, which are both essential for meeting
Scotland’s ambitious climate targets. The current UK Government’s energy
priorities are nuclear power and fracking, and they have already reduced
support for renewable energy. There is a real danger that Scotland will
toughen up its own climate target, to play its fair part in delivering the
UN Paris Agreement, only to be held back by UK energy market rules rigged
to support nuclear power.”

He said most of EU environmental law was devolved to Holyrood so Scotland
could decide to keep these protections in place but would still feel the
impact of deep cuts to budgets for managing the environment.

“As a society we lose the protection of being able to appeal to European
courts if either the UK or Scottish governments are failing to protect the
environment.”

But in last week’s House of Lords debate on “Brexit: Environmental and
Climate Change Policy” Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Minister in the UK
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that regardless of
the referendum result to leave the EU, the Conservative government was
committed to to this being the first generation to leave the natural
environment in “=a better state than it found it.

“We want to enhance not maintain it­we want to go beyond that­which is why
we are developing a 25-year environment plan to deliver this. ?This plan
will be key to informing our approach to environmental policy in the longer
term.

“Following the decision to leave the EU, we have the opportunity to widen
the scope of the environment plan and design an approach and supporting
regulation that is tailored for our country. “


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