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Fidra Evidence to Scottish Parliament’s NZET Committee shows Scottish Biodiversity Strategy omits chemical and plastic pollution impacts

Fidra Submits Evidence to Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero, Energy, and Transport Committee on the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy

Fidra, a Scottish environmental organisation, has presented crucial evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero, Energy, and Transport Committee (NZET) regarding the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and its Delivery Plan.

The comprehensive submission, addressing concerns and providing insights, emphasises the need to tackle the nature emergency in Scotland by addressing various environmental challenges. The group says that although the Biodiversity Strategy “quite rightly aligns the biodiversity crisis with ‘increasing impacts of climate change and ocean acidification’, and ‘disturbance of the seabed by bottom-contact towed fishing gear’”, the Strategy has failed to mane reference to the impact of chemical or plastic pollution, “both of which can have significant impacts on the natural environment and the wildlife within it,” states Fidra.

Chemical and Plastic Pollution Concerns

The evidence highlights findings from the UK Chemicals Investigation Programme, revealing elevated levels of PFOS (a member of the PFAS group of chemicals), a banned chemical, in coastal and transitional waters. Fidra stressed the urgency of addressing chemical and plastic pollution through regulatory measures across multiple sectors, including food contact materials, plant protection products, and medicines.

Plastic pollution, particularly the presence of pre-production plastic pellets (nurdles), poses a severe threat to marine life. Scotland’s role as a major producer of plastic pellets in Europe is emphasised, calling for stringent measures to curb plastic pollution.

 

Salmon Farming and Biodiversity Goals

Fidra expressed concerns about the Scottish Government’s support for expanding the salmon industry, contradicting biodiversity goals. Issues such as disease management, chemical treatments, and the risk of escaped farmed salmon impacting wild populations are raised. The evidence recommends addressing these challenges before further industry expansion and emphasises the need for protective measures, including the abandoned Highly Protected Marine Area scheme.

 

Delivery Plan Recommendations

In the examination of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy’s delivery plan, Fidra calls for clearer delineation of key ecosystems, comprehensive timelines for actions, and greater clarity on responsibilities. The evidence underscores the importance of aligning with the River Basin Management Plan, ensuring holistic management of river and estuary health for the benefit of marine systems.

 

Objectives and Actions Critique

Fidra scrutinised each objective of the strategy, offering recommendations for improvement. The evidence stresses the importance of effective measures, timelines, and enforcement to meet biodiversity goals. Specific attention is drawn to the need for a strategic approach to address pollution, including persistent chemicals and wastewater discharges.

 

Investment in Nature and Indirect Drivers of Biodiversity Loss

Fidra suggests the evidence supports increased investment in coastal and marine environments, with a focus on achieving social outcomes. It calls for biodiversity impact screening for recipients of public funds and emphasises the need for a circular economy to reduce raw material consumption.

Fidra concluded by urging the Scottish Parliament’s NZET Committee to consider these recommendations seriously in shaping policies and strategies to protect Scotland’s biodiversity. The evidence serves as a comprehensive call to action for a sustainable and biodiverse future in Scotland.

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