THE mini budget measures brought in by the UK Government are an "attack on nature and devolution", Scottish Government ministers have said.

Minister for Environment and Land Reform Mairi McAllan and Minister for Biodiversity Lorna Slater have written to the UK government calling on them to scrap the “anti-nature” measures announced by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng last week.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Ranil Jayawardena MP, the ministers said that the measures “represent an attack on nature (when we should be demonstrating global leadership in the lead up to the important CoP15 global summit), and on the devolved settlement itself.”

Conservation charities including the RSPB and the Woodland Trust have objected to plans that seek to create 38 ‘investment zones’ in England, which could, they say, incentivise housing or commercial developments to damage nature with very few restrictions.

The UK Government has also signalled that it may extend these investment zones into Scotland – despite failing to consult the Scottish Government on the plans.

The National: Minister for Environment and Land Reform Màiri McAllan MSPMinister for Environment and Land Reform Màiri McAllan MSP

“Your government has given little clarity over how the measures included in the mini-budget will be taken forward, and what the implications of them will be for Scotland,” the letter stated.

“Nor have you engaged with us in advance on these issues.

“The proposals demonstrate a reckless attitude to legislation that has been developed over many decades and that enshrines vital protections for both nature and people.”

The letter also takes aim at the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which has previously been condemned by Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson as “at odds with the wishes of the vast majority of the people of Scotland.”

The bill seeks to revoke all EU-derived subordinate legislation automatically from the end of 2023, which the Scottish ministers say could put “at risk the high standards people in Scotland have rightly come to expect from EU membership.”

The letter added: “Your government appears to want to row back more than 40 years of protections in a rush to impose a deregulated, race to the bottom on our society and economy.

“It is particularly alarming that our environmentally-principled approach of controls on polluting substances, ensuring standards for water and air quality, and providing protection for our natural habitats and wildlife are at risk from this deregulatory programme.

“Should you proceed regardless of our concerns and those of the public and civil society across the UK, then as a minimum we seek a guarantee that none of these measures will apply in Scotland without specific consent from the Scottish Government.”

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Responding to the letter a spokesperson for the UK Government said: “Claims we intend to go back on our commitment to the environment are simply not right.

“A strong environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand. We have legislated through the Environment Act and will continue to improve our regulations and wildlife laws in line with our ambitious vision.

“We want every corner of our country to prosper too.

“Bureaucratic processes in the planning system do not necessarily protect the environment so, by making sure we have the right regulations for our nation, we can make this happen.”

The issue was raised at First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) by Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell.

Commenting after FMQs he said: “Liz Truss’s mini-budget has unleashed chaos on all of us, putting households across Scotland under acute pressure and stress.

"But it has also threatened to renege on vital protections for our natural world, developed over 40 years when we were part of the European Union.

“There are concerns about the potential impacts on Scotland, but we also know that the natural world doesn’t end at the border. We all have an interest in governments across the UK and beyond investing in nature. 

“With Scottish Greens in government we have secured record investment in wildlife and nature, with the groundbreaking nature restoration fund supporting vital projects all across Scotland. This stands in stark contrast to the environmental vandalism and attacks on nature that we have seen from Downing Street.

“By acting now to restore nature, protect and enhance habitats and safeguard marine life, we can secure a better future for our nature, our planet and for future generations.”