"There remains an urgent need to address failings in our civil environmental justice systems."
Commenting on the publication today of the Scottish Government's response to its consultation on environmental justice, Lloyd Austin, RSPB Scotland's Head of Conservation Policy, said: "RSPB Scotland has long argued for improvements to Scotland's environmental justice systems, welcomed the debate sparked by the Scottish Government's consultation, and was pleased to submit a detailed response.
"On wildlife crime, we note and welcome the Scottish Government's strong commitment to continue its efforts to deter and prosecute wildlife crime. There is clear need for the police and prosecution services to be adequately resourced to deliver on this commitment. We also look forward to progress on the Government's separate commitments to review the management of grouse moors, with a view to ensuring sustainability and the prevention of wildlife crime.
"On civil environmental justice, however, today's response is disappointing. It fails to acknowledge the need for improvements to ensure full compliance with the Aarhus Convention. This is despite the decision, at a recent UN meeting of parties to the Convention that Scotland (like all parts of the UK) does not fully comply, and that further improvements are needed.
"Today's analysis of responses underlines the needs for improvements and we note, in particular, the clear majority of respondents supported moves to examine properly the options for an environmental court or tribunal. Yet, despite this strong support either for such a court or tribunal, or for a more in depth review, no immediate steps are proposed - indeed, the need for any review will simply be kept under review!
"Thus, while focus on these issues is welcome, the decision to do nothing substantive for the time being is disappointing. RSPB Scotland hopes that Scottish Ministers, who have been positive to date in seeking to maintain European standards in environmental law, will not be content to simply 'kick the can down the road'. There remains an urgent need to address failings in our civil environmental justice systems."