Scottish Government accuses UK ministers of ‘reckless attitude’ to environment

SCOTTISH ministers have accused the UK Government of taking a “reckless attitude” to the environment after plans set out in the controversial mini-budget.

Scotland’s SNP Environment Minister Mairi McAllan and Greens Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater have urged the UK Government to drop proposals which are an “attack on nature” and devolution.

Scottish ministers were given “very little prior notification”, according to the letter, of the plans which include loosening planning rules and removing EU environmental protection legislation.

The letter called for further information to be made available on how the measures will impact Scotland.

The UK Government has denied claims it is reversing environmental commitments.

It comes as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Woodland Trust launched a scathing attack on the plans.

Conservation groups said the plans could roll back environmental rules.

The joint letter from Ms McAllan and Ms Slater said: “From the information that has been made available, we share the strong concerns highlighted by nature groups such as the RSPB and the Woodland Trust.

“The proposals demonstrate a reckless attitude to legislation that has been developed over many decades and enshrines vital protections for both nature and people.”

And the plans “undermine” reform programmes currently underway in Scotland, the letter said.

It added: “Your proposed measures also threaten to undermine our programme of planning reform that is underway in Scotland.

“National Planning Framework 4 will signal a turning point for planning in Scotland, and we have been clear that responding to both the global climate emergency and the nature crisis will be central to that.”

UK Ministers were also told the plans “no longer represented” Scotland’s view on supporting an ambitious global framework to reverse biodiversity decline.

The Retained EU Law (Reform and Revocation) Bill has also been condemned, with ministers echoing earlier calls from Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson to ditch the plans which would spell the end for EU laws in the UK.

“Your Government appears to want to row back more than 40 years of protections in a rush to impose a deregulated, race to the bottom of our society and economy,” the letter said.

“It is particularly alarming that our environmentally principled approach to controls of polluting substances, ensuring standards for water and air quality, and providing protection for our natural habitats and wildlife are at risk from this deregulatory programme.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Claims we intend to go back on our commitment to the environment are simply not right.

“A strong environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand. We have legislated through the Environment Act and will continue to improve our regulations and wildlife laws in line with our ambitious vision.

“We want every corner of our country to prosper too.

“Bureaucratic processes in the planning system do not necessarily protect the environment so, by making sure we have the right regulations for our nation, we can make this happen.”

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