Scotland: challenges and opportunities for post-Brexit environmental governance

10 October 2018

Brexit represents a major change to environmental governance in Scotland and the United Kingdom (UK), raising both opportunities and challenges. It has prompted a constitutional dispute between the Scottish and UK governments, which may jeopardise future environmental governance.

The current constitutional impasse has created even more uncertainty, making Brexit preparations highly challenging for government and civil society actors. There is a strong fear in Scotland that Scottish environmental policy ambition will be thwarted by Brexit and deregulatory pressure from England.

This report includes key points including

  • Environmental policy works best where policy-makers can take account of local conditions and allow local communities to get involved. Cooperation and coordination
    on transboundary problems is also required.
  • There are many incentives for the Scottish and UK governments to cooperate on environmental policy in ways that allow Scotland to develop policies sensitive to local conditions whilst cooperating on areas of shared concern.
  • However, the absence of trust between the Scottish and UK government may jeopardise the future development of post-Brexit environmental governance.
  • The current machinery for coordinating policy (the Joint Ministerial Committee) is not fit for purpose and should be reformed.
  • New environmental governance structures (such as watchdogs) must be coordinated across the nations of the UK and be accountable to legislatures and citizens.
  • Environmental policy must be properly resourced to enable the development of new policies and the implementation and enforcement of existing policies.
Download Brexit Environment Scotland Report

The views expressed in this research paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative.

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