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ECCLR Committee work

ECCLR Committee work programme 13 February 2017 Biodiversity At its meeting on 1 November 2016 the Committee heard from a range of stakeholders on biodiversity and Scotland’s progress to its 2020 targets. The Committee subsequently wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform and looks forward to the publication of the Scottish Government’s 3 yearly Scottish Biodiversity Progress Report in early 2017. Land Use Strategy The Land Use Strategy and its relationship with other strategic plans has been raised by stakeholders in the context of the Committee’s recent work on climate change, biodiversity and deer management. The Committee is therefore holding an informal briefing session with the Scottish Government on the Strategy in March 2017 to help inform any future work in this area. Petitions PE1490 on the control of wild goose numbers PE1490, from Patrick Krause on behalf of Scottish Crofting Federation, was previously considered in Session 4 by the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee. It recommended that its successor committee continue to scrutinise the petition by examining the outcomes of the review of wild goose management by Scottish Natural Heritage and continue to press the Scottish Government to ensure that SNH has the required levels of funding for goose management schemes. The ECCLR Committee most recently considered the petition at its meeting on 1 November 2016. It agreed to await the publication of Scottish Natural Heritage's review of goose management policy and to write to the petitioner seeking an update on wild geese numbers. PE1601 on European Beavers in Scotland PE1601, from Andy Myles, was lodged on 20 March 2016. It called on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to make an urgent decision about the legal status of the two populations of European beavers in Scotland, and to extend the full protection of law to the species. In November 2016 the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform confirmed that beavers in Scotland will be given protection under the law as a European Protected Species. The Committee has since closed the petition but expects to scrutinise the forthcoming SSI which will formally classify beavers as a protected species. PE1601 on state regulated licensing system for gamebird hunting in Scotland PE1615, from Logan Steele on behalf of the Scottish Raptor Study Group, was lodged on 22 August 2016. It calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to implement urgent action to introduce a state regulated system of licensing of gamebird hunting, that addresses the potentially adverse environmental impact of gamebird hunting, provides for the revocation or amendment of licences where a licence-holder fails to comply with their terms and conditions, and to implement the recommendations of the Review of Wildlife Crime Penalties in Scotland. 2

ECCLR Committee work programme 13 February 2017 The Committee first considered the petition at its meeting on 31 January 2017 and agreed to write to the Scottish Government seeking information on the operation of current legislation in this area as well as the timescales for publication of the SNH commissioned research on gamebird licensing systems in selected other countries. The Committee will then consider what further action is required at that point. EU scrutiny The Committee has invited Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to give evidence to the Committee on both the expected impact of Britain’s exit from the EU as well as the UK Government’s climate change priorities. The Committee has also asked the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform for regular updates on implications for her portfolio on the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. The Committee recently wrote to the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee to report on both its EU engagement and scrutiny in relation to the European Commission’s work programme 2017. The letter summarised its scrutiny in relation to the implications of leaving the EU for Scotland. While this is considered as part of each piece of the Committee work, the Committee will hear evidence at its meeting on 14 March 2017 from a panel of experts on the implications for the environment in relation to the decision to leave the EU. Committee sub groups The Committee established two sub groups in September 2016 to explore specific areas of work before bringing any recommendations for future courses of action to the Committee. Deposit return schemes The Committee considered a proposed course of action suggested by the sub group on deposit return schemes at its meeting on 22 November 2016. The Committee agreed that the sub group would conduct informal introductory meetings with relevant stakeholders before reporting back to the Committee with any proposals for any further work on this issue. The Committee also wrote to the Scottish Government seeking an update on its work in relation to deposit return schemes. Air quality The sub group on air quality is currently considering options for possible future work and will report back to the Committee in due course. Recently completed work The Scottish Government’s Draft Budget 2017-18 The yearly budget process requires all committees to consider the draft budgets relevant to their particular remits and to report to the Finance Committee. The ECCLR Committee agreed to focus its approach for this year’s budget scrutiny on the work of Scottish National Heritage, Marine Scotland and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency; specifically how they are able to help meet the Scottish Government’s national outcomes. 3

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