Environmental Standards Scotland (Scotland)

Environmental Standards Scotland (ESS) is a public sector body, set up as a non-ministerial office, independent of but accountable to the Scottish Government.

The ESS is set up under the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2021 (enacted by the Scottish Parliament).

The ESS Interim Strategic Plan (here) states it is mindful of the commitments given by the Scottish Government to fulfil its international obligations and to ‘keep pace’ with the European Union.

The ESS has been established to fill the environmental governance gap caused by the UK’s departure from the European Union. Its task is to ensure that there is effective scrutiny of public authorities’ compliance with environmental law and that the application of the law is effective in protecting and enhancing nature and human health. The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) is a similar body in England, and also in Northern Ireland.

Live investigations are published on the ESS website – here.

F-Gases and ODS (GB from 1st Jan 2021)

I posted a few days ago with the stipulations if exports to the EU are rejected. Today, 15th Oct, DEFRA and the Environment Agency issued full instructions on the regulations that will apply in England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain – GB), for F-Gases and ODS from 1st Jan 2021.

The updated webpage is here.

GB will continue to:

• restrict ODS

• use the same schedule as the EU to phase down HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons, the most common type of F gas) by 79% by 2030 relative to a 2009 to 2012 baseline

That means new GB F gas quotas will follow the same phase down steps as the EU:

• limited to 63% of the baseline in 2019 and 2020

• reducing to 45% of the baseline in 2021

Most of the rules for F gas and ODS will not change. However, new GB IT systems will need to be used to:

• manage new GB quotas

• report on use

EU regulations will still apply for F gas, ODS and products containing them placed on the EU and Northern Ireland market after 1 January 2021.

The Environment Agency will administer the GB system on behalf of England, Scotland and Wales, if it receives the direction of the Scottish and Welsh Governments, from 1 January 2021.

Businesses preparing for 1 January 2021 should continue to work with the Environment Agency to register on the GB system and apply for GB quotas.

Please read the entire webpage, as the above is only part of the stipulations.

UK Internal Market Bill (Scotland 1st Jan 2021)

The UK Internal Market Bill is not yet published. Accounts of it suggest it’s purpose is to put into law the common approaches that subsist across the UK and the Devolved Governments to food, environment and animal welfare, in the context of international trade agreements.

Presently, a concept of ‘common frameworks’ is agreed between the UK and the Devolved Governments to enable the functioning of the UK internal market (in areas that are currently governed by the European Union) from the 1st January 2021, while acknowledging policy divergence.

The Finance and Constitutional Committee (FCC) of the Scottish Parliament has been consulting on views about how the UK Internal Market might operate from 1st January 2021. This consultation closed 28th February 2020.

More details are here.

Further Blog posts will be issued in the event that the UK Internal Market Bill is progressed.

Scotland EU Continuity Bill (Scotland 1st Jan 2021)

On 18 June 2020, the Scottish Government introduced the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill. Details are here.

The purpose of the Bill is to:

a. enable the Scottish Ministers to make provision in secondary legislation to allow Scots law to be able to ‘keep pace’ with EU law in devolved areas, where appropriate;

b. ensure that there continue to be guiding principles on the environment in Scotland;

c. establish an environmental governance body, Environmental Standards Scotland;

[The UK Environment Bill at Westminster seeks to establish, amongst other matters, an environmental governance body, the Office for Environmental Protection, in England]

d. continue the role and functions of the European institutions in ensuring the complete and effective implementation of environmental law.

Environment is a devolved area.

In the Scottish Parliament, the Finance and Constitution Committee (FCC) is the lead Committee for considering this Bill and focuses on the constitutional aspects of the Bill. 

The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLRC) is a secondary committee and focuses on the environmental policy aspects of the Bill. 

The FCC is currently conducting a consultation (ends 7th August 2020). This seeks views on questions – including –

The policy memorandum states that “the Scottish Government considers it necessary to give Scottish Ministers the power to ensure that Scotland’s laws may keep pace with changes to EU law, where appropriate and practicable.”

The Committee would welcome your views on how wide-ranging this power is likely to be given the following statutory and non-statutory constraints –

* Compliance with UK international obligations including future trade deals and other international agreements;

* Statutory and non-statutory common frameworks;

* The functioning of a UK internal market;

* The replacement of EU funding.

More details are here.

The ECCLR has its own consultation (ends 31st July 2020). This seeks views on questions – including –

• The extent to which the proposals will address the governance issues arising from EU exit

• The limit of the obligations of ‘public authorities’ and the exclusions

• How the proposed model will align with that proposed for functions in the rest of the UK, and for reserved matters in Scotland, through the UK Environment Bill and any potential for gaps in the oversight arrangements; and the ability to co-operate and share data

More details are here.

COVID-19 Reissued Guidance (Scotland)

Scotland will continue with its Stay at Home and Away from Others instruction. This is termed Physical Distancing (as distinct from Social Distancing across the border in England).

The reissued guidance is here.

Note: persons should stay close to their home, and not travel to England.

This Scottish guidance is part of a series of guidance documents issued in Scotland. Please follow the links on the page (the link takes you to) to check you are aware of all the guidance documents issued in Scotland.

COVID-19 Workplace Social Distancing (Scotland)

The Scottish Government has issued guidance for businesses and on the matter of social distancing – here.

Note the emphasis on essential services – Scotland’s government advises that all business premises, sites and attractions not required by law to close should close now unless:

• essential to the health and welfare of the country during this crisis (as defined in relation to Scotland’s Critical National Infrastructure set out in the Link), or

• supporting (or being repurposed to support) essential services, or

• wider public health, health and safety or other considerations apply and require a facility or service to continue to operate or a specific period of time for a safe shutdown process to be completed, and

• apart from in exceptional circumstances critical to lives and safety, capable of working in a way which is fully consistent with established social distancing advice.

This information is part of a set of COVID-19 guidance issued by the Scottish Government – here.

Environmental Strategy (Scotland Brexit)

The Scottish Government has today published its Environmental Strategy.

The Link is here.

The Strategy confirms the Scottish Government will enact legislation to ensure that the four EU environmental principles continue to influence the development of policy in Scotland.

o Precautionary principle. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing cost- effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

o Polluter pays principle. The polluter should bear the cost of pollution control and remediation.

o Prevention principle. Preventative action should be taken to avoid environmental damage.

o Rectification at source principle. Environmental damage should, as a priority, be rectified at source.

The Strategy confirms the Scottish Government will develop a system of environmental governance, to ensure the continued effective implementation of environmental law.

[England is setting up an Office for Environmental Protection.]

The Strategy confirms the Scottish Government will develop a monitoring framework to track progress in delivering the Environment Strategy.