Scotland vow to fight ‘race to bottom’ in UK environmental standards post-Brexit

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment has committed to preserving EU environmental protections in law and not let future trade deals undermine them.

EU environmental principles sit at the heart of Scottish policy-making, says Secretary for the Environment Roseanna Cunningham

Speaking to over 200 delegates attending the European Environmental Bureau’s annual conference in Edinburgh on Monday, co-organised with Scottish Environment LINK, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said:

“The creation of a European Union has been about recognising shared values that bring us together across national boundaries. A robust and effective approach to protecting our environment has proved, for many of us, to be one of those key shared values. So, my ambition is to carry through not just the letter of EU environmental law but also the underlying principles of precaution, prevention and rectifying pollution at source, as well as the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Not doing so means we risk lagging behind and diverging from the ambitions of our European allies as well as missing key tools that can help us to meet international ambitions such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.

She also told delegates:

“We will not let our goals be undermined by any race to the bottom in pursuit of future trading agreements.”

Mrs Cunningham’s commitment was warmly welcomed by the environmental community across Europe who expressed support for the Scottish Government position.

Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of European Environmental Bureau said:

“We strongly welcome the commitment of the Cabinet Secretary today to preserving not only EU environmental law but also the principles which underpin them. Our commitment has always been to securing the highest standards of environmental protection in Scotland and across Europe. We know that Brexit challenges this and we are heartened that leaders in Scotland are working to preserve these hard fought protections and stop a race to the bottom.“

Helen Todd, Chair of Scottish Environment LINK said:

“Today’s statement by the Cabinet Secretary is warmly welcomed by Scottish Environment LINK members. It is testament to the Scottish Government’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. Actions speak louder than words and so we look forward to the Scottish Government providing further certainty regarding the future of these important international principles. Our members stand ready to support the Scottish Government in securing the future of our environment and with it that of Scotland as a whole.”