Scotland’s environment


We’re all told that Scotland is different but it appears that its politicians aren’t that different really.

The Environment, Rural Scotland, Energy and Resources chapter of Scotland’s Future forgets to leave a place for nature.

It’s all about energy, energy prices, Scottish fishermen and Scottish farmers but very little about the Scottish landscape or wildlife on which much of Scotland’s tourism industry is built.

I’m not Scottish but I have great affection for Scotland. I have a PhD from a Scottish university (Aberdeen), my first job in nature conservation was as a warden of a Scottish National nature reserve (St Cyrus), I did my first bit of real research fieldwork (and met my wife) on Rhum, my first job with the RSPB was based in Caithness and Sutherland and if I were Scottish I would wonder what Scotland’s Future offered in terms of Scotland’s environment. Despite being a 700 page document, natural beauty and richness hardly finds a place or gets a mention.

Wildlife and the natural environment get little treatment in the question and answers at the back of the document either – it’s all about money and jobs.

What this historic document says about the environment is uninspiring, lacking in details and also lacking in vision.  It’s lax and lacking.

In fact, what this document says about us, we British, is that our politicians are short-sighted and they think that we are mean and selfish.  They appeal to us simply through telling us that we might get a bit more money if we vote for them. There is nothing much here about creating a better world, it’s simply about making sure that the people of Scotland get at least their share of whatever is going.  If this document sums up the aspirations of a nation then that nation is uninspired and uninspiring – and that doesn’t sounds like the Scotland or the Scots that I know.

Now, I wonder whether those politicians further south in the UK could do a better job?  Not much evidence I admit – but that doesn’t mean that Scottish politicians are offering Scottish people a good deal for Scotland’s environment.



Do remember to vote in the poll to pick the Westminster MP who did the best job for wildlife in 2013.  Voting started yesterday and has already attracted over 600 votes.

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8 Replies to “Scotland’s environment”

  1. Its depressing, but there is very little doubt that the key players in the SNP, Salmond and Swinney, have little more than contempt for the environment. Fergus Ewing hates nature conservation and would get rid of the legislation tomorrow if he could. Its interesting that they are determined to remain in the EU but have not made any noises about the Habitats Directive (a source of great irritation).

  2. Interesting, depressing, but unfortunately not surprising. According to Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign group, the document contains no mention of cycling or walking either! So much for sustainability and any consideration for the environment whatsoever.

  3. Before I comment, I should point out that I am effectively half-Scottish albeit Lancastrian by birth so it causes me great anguish to pan the SNP's view for an independent Scotland. From what I can see, it is all about how much of a share they can have in the good bits of the Union and how much they can pinch from the rest. I suspect Salmond genuinely thinks he is in a position to negotiate the annexing of the Armed Forces in a CIS-style way whereas the situation would be far more analogous to Eire breaking free in 1917 and having to raise its own forces. The particularly unrealistic part is that the SNP has already played the per capita card when discussing prosperity so surely they are only entitled to a proportional part of the Union per capita (almost certainly less than 25%, BTW). None of this is realistic and as the point I made on Facebook goes, the SNP are trying to rob the Union and con their own people into making the vote. It does not surprise me that the Environment does not figure in their plans after all, so few people in such a big space? How will they convince the Scottish people to maintain all that land that no one lives in?

  4. Being Scottish I live in hope that common sense prevails and indepedence is rejected. Gladly I've yet to meet anyone who openly supports this mammoth gamble of uncertainty.
    Wind turbines and afforestation threaten our outstanding scenery and raptors, etc. Why do we never seem to get the right balance?

  5. Most people that I know working in the environmental sector in Scotland are aware of how little wee Eck cares about our natural heritage unless you can put a direct financial/economical/political price on it, at which point it of course becomes immensely important. Would an independent Scotland protect its wildlife and countryside better than a UK government? I'm not sure, though given our lack of support for the Tories I'm inclined to believe that it will.
    We'll find out next year I suppose, hopefully by then I'll have figured out which way to vote.

  6. I was also somewhat underwhelmed by the lack of anything more than a passing reference to biodiversity in 'Scotland's future'. However, that will not stop me from voting Yes in next year's referendum (as many other issues come into play). Certainly Alex Salmond does not appear to be someone who is particularly interested in biodiversity, but then neither do any of the other main party leaders at Holyrood or Westminster. His dealings with Trump left a great deal to be desired, but then most of the other political parties supported that particular project as well, and the SNP did bring in vicarious liability, which still seems to be a step to far south of the border.

    Ultimately though, it isn’t really about the SNP, which is a broad church politically and would inevitably splinter amid a general realignment of party politics following independence. It is about getting the government you vote for. I am nearly 43 years old and for well over half of my life Scotland has been under the control of a political party that we didn’t vote for, and one which brought in some pretty damaging policies. I will vote yes because we will get the government we vote for (good or bad) and will no longer be able to blame anyone else if anything goes wrong.


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