The Scottish Universities Legal Network on Europe (SULNE) recently published a paper on the implications of Brexit for environmental law in Scotland.
The paper, co-coordinated by Dr Annalisa Savaresi, Lecturer in Environmental Law at the University of Stirling, and produced by researchers at universities across Scotland, maps the possible implications of Brexit for environmental protection in Scotland, identifying core questions, as well as solutions that may be adopted, with the objective of initiating a conversation about this complex issue.
The report identifies a series of challenges associated with Brexit, including the loss of the stable regulatory framework provided by EU law, the potential loss of access to EU funds and programmes, and the repositioning of the UK and Scotland in international and regional environmental governance cooperation. The question of the allocation of environmental powers repatriated after Brexit between the UK and Scottish Governments is also raised – and is one which will require serious discussion between central and devolved governments across the UK.
The research also suggests some solutions that may be adopted to address these challenges, most importantly the possibility for Scotland to seek further devolved powers, including the capacity to conclude international agreements on matters within its competence, and of staying engaged with various regional and EU networks and institutions working on issues such as energy, fisheries and environmental law enforcement.
One of the report’s authors, Dr Annalisa Savaresi from the University of Stirling, argued that Brexit meant the loss of the stable regulatory framework provided by EU law.
She said: “Following withdrawal from the EU, existing regulatory and policy differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK may sharpen.
“Whether EU powers will, by default, go to the Scottish Parliament and other devolved administrations, or will be re-reserved to Westminster is yet to be seen. The latter question is likely to require discussion between central and devolved governments across the UK.”
The paper was informally discussed with members of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee of the Scottish Parliament and will be further discussed at a public meeting to be held in January 2017.