Environmental impact of Brexit a "big unknown", according to Cabinet Secretary for Environment

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 1 July 2016 in News

Rosesanna Cunningham says the Scottish Government is in the early stages of assessing how Brexit will impact different policy areas

The impact of the Brexit vote on areas of environmental policy are a “big unknown”, according to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.

In the build up to the referendum groups such as Friends of the Earth Scotland and WWF warned that a Leave vote could put Scotland’s environment at risk.

Giving evidence at the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, Roseanna Cunningham said the Scottish Government is in the early stages of assessing how Brexit will impact on different policy areas, along with how quickly the change will be felt.


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But the Cabinet Secretary warned: “Organisations and our environment benefit enormously from money that comes directly from the EU, and we do not know what the future of that funding will be”, adding, “there are certain uncertainties that are not easy for us to calculate at the moment”.

Cunningham said: “The past week puts everything in my portfolio into a slightly different light; my portfolio and possibly the rural economy portfolio are the two that are most heavily impacted by the EU. Just about every aspect of what we do will have to be seen against the new backdrop.”

She added: “Last week’s referendum does not change the force of our domestic law, in which regulation and protection are embedded. Our regulatory bodies – the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage and others – will continue to regulate and protect us and will continue to do what they need to do to effect the outcomes that we consider to be necessary.

“We are in the very early stages of mapping all the different impacts on different policy areas and assessing how quickly they might be felt. That is a big unknown for us. The convener mentioned the SRDP; there are also structural funds. Organisations and our environment benefit enormously from money that comes directly from the EU, and we do not know what the future of that funding will be.”

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