Scottish ministers are consulting on draft statutory guidance for public authorities and ministers on implementing the new statutory guiding principles on the environment.

The five guiding principles are set out in the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2021, part of which contains the post-Brexit legal framework for safeguarding the environment. This aims to keep Scotland aligned as far as possible with EU standards.

They sit alongside the establishment of Environmental Standards Scotland as the new regulator monitoring compliance with the law, and the publication of the Government's Environment Strategy.

The five guiding principles, in s 13(1) of the Continuity Act are:

  • the principle that protecting the environment should be integrated into the making of policies;
  • the precautionary principle as it relates to the environment;
  • the principle that preventative action should be taken to avert environmental damage;
  • the principle that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source; and  
  • the principle that the polluter should pay.

Developed to serve as a practical guide to implementing these duties, the draft guidance is intended to promote a common understanding and interpretation of the guiding principles and how they should be considered and applied when developing future policy and legislation. It will also be of interest to the general public and civic society groups with an interest in decisions that could impact the environment.

Under s 17(3) of the Continuity Act, those subject to a duty to have due regard to the guiding principles must, when doing anything in respect of which the duty applies, have regard to the final statutory guidance.

Click here to access the consultation. Responses are due by 8 February 2022.