Friday, September 19, 2014

Scotland's No Vote Good for the Environment

Scotland has voted "no" on independence from the UK and while the "yes" camp had the support of the greens, the final outcome is probably for the best. A yes vote would not have changed anything in terms of conservation policy as this is already under Scottish control. This includes Scotland’s two main green agencies, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, which has jurisdictional control over the Forestry Commission and determines the siting of wind farms.

A draft of the Scottish Independence Bill, “contains requirements that the Scottish Government and public authorities must promote the conservation of biodiversity and measures to tackle climate change”. However, this is already happening.

Some had expressed concerns that an independent Scotland would have made environmental matters worse not better. The more difficult economic picture in an independent Scotland could have diminished funding for environmental issues. This is the view of leading Scottish historian Professor Christopher Smout expressed in the current issue of the journal British Birds.

The article suggests that independence could have led to an economic downturn which would likely augur severe government cutbacks, and wildlife conservation funding would likely to suffer.

Another concern involves the fact that a separate Scotland would find itself without the protections of stringent EU environmental laws which offer the strongest wildlife protection in the UK.

Finally a vote for independence would have jeopardized the Scottish wind industry.

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