The Scottish Parliament's Rural Affairs and Environment Committee are seeking views on the general principles of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 9 June 2010 and seeks to update legislation protecting Scottish wildlife and ensure legislation which regulates and manages the natural environment is fit for purpose.

The Bill consists of six parts as follows:

  • Part 1 - contains one section which defines legal references used in the Bill e.g. that "the 1981 Act" refers to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981;
  • Part 2 - contains amendments to the 1981 Act relating to game law, the law on the use of snares, the control of invasive non-native species, and on species licensing;
  • Part 3 - contains amendments to the law on deer management that the Bill would make to the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996;
  • Part 4 - contains amendments to the law protecting badgers that the Bill would make to the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and amendments to the law on "muirburn" (burning of upland vegetation) that the Bill would make to the Hill Farming Act 1946;
  • Part 5 - contains amendments that the Bill would make to the law on Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004; and
  • Part 6 - contains three sections on general provisions such as commencement and extent of application.

The consultation closes on Wednesday 1 September 2010. Details of the consultation and how to respond can be viewed by clicking here.

Of note are the terms of Section 14 – 17 of Part 2 of the Bill which creates a new offence to plant or cause to grow any plant at a place outwith its native range.

This raises practical issues in that "native range", as defined at Section 14P(2) as inserted by Section 16 of the Bill does not take into account the time period within which the plant has been indigenous to the locality, and accordingly defining "native range" for the purposes of determining the offence would be extremely difficult.

The provisions would likely cover Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and such varieties of non-native species, although, the provisions allow for the Scottish Ministers, by order, to specify types of animals and plants to which these provisions do not apply.

A new project to deal with invasive non-native species, including Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed, in Dumfries and Galloway was launched on Wednesday 11 August.

The project is part of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency's (SEPA) Dumfries and Galloway Catchment Management Initiative and will deliver a control programme on the Nith and Annan catchments by providing practical support, information, guidance and education on why and how to control invasive non-native species. The project leaflet can be viewed by clicking here.

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