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What are the potential implications for environmental legal practice in the event of a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum? Kenneth Ross, partner and specialist in environmental law at Brodies, says the impact will be relatively limited and there is a risk that the potential impact of independence on environmental law might be overstated.
I think the impact on environmental law would be relatively limited. Before devolution in 1998 all legislation was made at Westminster, but Scotland did administer a fair amount of environmental law, for example via the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the local authorities. The Scotland Act 1998 added legislative powers. The basic concept is that all legislative power would devolve apart from reserved powers. It has to be borne in mind, however, that most environmental law—whether in the UK or Scotland—is driven by European law. There is, accordingly, very little room for manoeuvre.
It could be argued that if an independent Scotland were to remain within the EU there would be very little difference. There is, of course, political debate as to whether an independent Scotland would remain within the EU. However, it is difficult to imagine that it would not, ultimately, either retain or negotiate membership. Even if an independent Scotland were not to remain within the EU, it is worth noting that European c
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