New Scots green laws 'needed post-Brexit'

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image captionEU programmes have funded work to combat invasive species

Scotland must pass its own laws to protect nature and wildlife after Brexit, a coalition of conservation groups has said.

The 35 groups said an Environment Act for Scotland will be needed after the UK leaves the EU.

Scottish Environment Link's (SEL) members include the Marine Conservation Society, the National Trust for Scotland and RSPB Scotland.

It has launched a Fight for Scotland's Nature campaign to promote its ideas.

SEL estimates that about 80% of environment laws in force in Scotland come from the EU.

In a statement, it said: "If and when Brexit happens, Scotland (along with the rest of the UK) will lose the unrivalled support and enforcement roles of the European Commission, European Court of Justice and other EU bodies.

"Alarmingly, with only a few months to go, there is uncertainty about what will replace this.

"This is why Scottish Environment Link is pushing the Scottish government to fight for Scotland's nature and commit to a world class environment act before it's too late."

Invasive species

The campaigners said Scotland had, to date, received 25m euros from the EU's Life Nature fund.

They argued there was a risk to safeguarding nature in future from inadequate support and funding.

Recent projects funded by the EU fund included work to combat invasive species such as American mink.

SEL president Joyce McMillan said: "Now more than ever, we need a Scottish Environment Act that builds on existing Scottish government commitments to retain EU protections.

"This would send a clear message to UK and EU partners as well as the rest of the world that we are serious about protecting and enhancing our natural environment."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "We are committed to protecting and enhancing Scotland's environment and playing our full role in addressing global environmental challenges.

"That's why we've been clear that we'll, at the very least, maintain or even exceed EU environmental standards and carry forward the four EU environmental principles post-Brexit.

"We will be consulting shortly on future environmental principles and governance, as part of our on-going work to develop our approach to environmental policy in Scotland, after the UK leaves the EU, and look forward to SE Link's contribution to that debate."