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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-05251: David Stewart (Highlands and Islands)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 1 December 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what the timetable is for the review of the revised structure of the governance of the Scottish biodiversity and land use strategy; when the review’s guidance, advisory and delivery support groups will meet; when the revised structure will be adopted, and how it will ensure that the stakeholders' group that is expected to be established by the review will take into account the views of all interested parties.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 9 February 2017

The governance review of biodiversity and land use was completed but not considered by Ministers before the Scottish Parliament election in May 2016. The review concluded that the previous arrangements should be replaced with arrangements under the Rural Affairs, Food and Environment (RAFE) Delivery Board, a grouping of chief executives or equivalents from public sector environmental and agricultural organisations under the joint chairmanship of the then Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment (Richard Lochhead MSP) and then Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (Dr Aileen McLeod MSP).

Since May 2016, the RAFE Delivery Board has continued to meet informally at official level to work on issues of common interest, including preparation for the Budget 2016-17, the potential impact of the EU referendum and the Scottish Government’s draft Climate Change Plan. Ministers have yet to consider what formal arrangements they wish to see in place of the RAFE Delivery Board – and also how they wish to deal with biodiversity and land use governance.

In the meantime, on biodiversity, the delivery support groups in the form of the working groups and the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Co-ordination Group (which is chaired by Scottish Natural Heritage) have continued to meet regularly and to support and coordinate the delivery of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and ‘Scotland’s Biodiversity – a Route Map to 2020’.

On stakeholder engagement, a RAFE ‘Leading Together’ stakeholder event held by Mr Lochhead in March 2016 under the auspices of the RAFE Delivery Board drew together leaders from public bodies and key stakeholders to discuss the portfolio’s outcomes and priorities. A further meeting was held on 28 July 2016 specifically to consider follow-up to the EU referendum on the range of environmental and climate change issues. The Scottish Government’s Standing Council on Europe has set up a Roundtable on Environment and Climate Change under the chairmanship of Professor Dame Anne Glover, which has met several times since October 2016.

Officials expect to arrange further stakeholder meetings on biodiversity and land use in the course of this year.