The Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party Parliamentary Group have agreed to work together over the next five years to build a green economic recovery from COVID, respond to the climate emergency and create a fairer country.
A shared draft policy programme – the Bute House Agreement – was agreed and announced earlier this month.
The programme sets out some key commitments to improve the natural environment, including:
- Introducing a Natural Environment Bill in 2023-24 following the new biodiversity strategy due in 2022. The Bill’s development will reflect emerging policy in the EU and the results of the UN COP15 on Biodiversity,
- Inclusion of legally binding targets to halt the rapid decline of Scotland’s nature by 2030 and set nature on track to recovery on land and at sea.
- Establishment of a new National Park
- Add to the existing Marine Protected Area network by designating a world-leading suite of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) covering at least 10% of our seas.
- Review the wider species licensing system with a view to ensuring that the law is being applied correctly and that lethal control is only licensed where the conditions required for such a licence are demonstrably being met.
- Embed nature networks across Scotland into NPF4 to deliver goals to restore and regenerate the environment.
- Work with the agricultural sector and stakeholders to bring forward a consultation on the options for future agriculture and wider land use support through a Bill to replace the current Common Agricultural Policy framework for agriculture and land use support. The Bill will be introduced in 2023.
Our Head of Policy and Communications, Jason Reeves said:
CIEEM is broadly pleased with the proposed SNP-Scottish Greens deal in relation to the environment. On some specific points we are disappointed with the dissonance between promoting rail travel and at the same time closing routes, and also the fixation on tree planting which does of course have its place but must be part of a wider habitat restoration programme. As such, we are pleased to see commitments to restore and protect marine habitats and blue carbon stores.
Following the agreement, Parliament has agreed to new Ministerial appointments of Lorna Slater as Minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity and Patrick Harvie as Minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenant’s rights. The former includes responsibility for NatureScot.
The announcement of the agreement comes alongside the launch of a new Environment Council who will advise Scottish Government on environmental issues such as biodiversity, marine resources, waste, and the nature-based aspects of climate change and the Just Transition, before presenting their proposed work areas and future plans in a report at COP26. The council will be co-chaired by the First Minister and Professor Sir Ian Boyd, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.