LEGISLATION to address climate change and reforms to make it easier for people to change their gender are among the Scottish Government’s plans being put on hold as efforts are focused on combatting the coronavirus pandemic, MSPs have been told.

In a statement to Holyrood, parliamentary business minister Graeme Dey said a number of bills, including reforms to the Gender Recognition Act – as revealed by The National last month – and another to give councils the power to introduce a new levy on hotel stays – are among the proposals being halted.

He also revealed that work is also being paused on planned legislation on fox control.

Ministers had been consulting on the draft Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which had outlined plans for people to receive a Gender Recognition Certificate through self-declaration after six months rather than requiring medical evidence and a two-year period of living as that gender under the current rules.

The proposed Circular Economy Bill, which was put forward to bring in measures to cut litter and waste, will not now be introduced in this current parliamentary session, nor will legislation that aimed to make Scotland a “good food nation”.

Dey said while these were “important bills”, the coronavirus outbreak with “unknown timescales and consequences” means “we very regrettably need to pare back legislation and focus on the immediate term”.

READ MORE: SNP activists quit party over Gender Recognition Act reform row

He said ministers will consider if these bills can be brought in the next parliamentary year, which is due to begin in September.

“I’m afraid this is an unavoidable consequence of focusing resource on the efforts to deal with the virus,” the minister told MSPs.

“As the Covid crisis unfolds there may well be further difficult decisions.

“A revised programme will be published in September as we enter the final year of the Parliament.”

He added: “I understand that in some cases the need to pause or delay aspects of this legislative programme will be deeply disappointing, and for some who have waited a long time to see these reforms there will be a frustration that we can no longer achieve all that we wanted to.

“However, this is a challenging time for all of us, and there will be more challenges ahead. This is a pragmatic but essential approach the Government is taking.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “Everyone will understand that neither the Government nor Parliament can carry on with business as usual in midst of the current crisis. However, it’s deeply regrettable that progress will be halted when it comes to the environment, people’s right to food, animal protections and not least the rights of trans people, for whom overdue legislative reform has been long promised by all parties.”

He added: “We expect Government to deliver on their commitments when possible and appropriate, and will explore with all parties what can be done to achieve more progress.”

Dey’s statement followed Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham’s announcement the Government’s plans to tackle climate change were being delayed.

Caroline Rance, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said it was understandable the climate change plan was temporarily put on hold.

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