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Latest National Conversation paper published
Independence would enable Scotland to maximise its full renewable energy potential and have its voice properly heard in Europe on crucial issues such as agriculture, fisheries and food.
The latest National Conversation policy paper, which looks at rural affairs, the environment and climate change, shows how the current constitutional arrangements are holding Scotland back in these crucial areas.
Publishing the paper, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead said:
"Our land, our seas and our environment are all part of Scotland's unique and distinct character. They sustain businesses and jobs, support families and communities, put food on our plates and offer huge potential for sustainable economic growth.
"While we have achieved a great deal in two years of government - international leadership on sustainable fishing, unprecedented support for rural development and a world-leading Climate Change Act - there is so much more we could do if we were an independent country."
Issues highlighted in the report include:
- EU representation - Scotland currently has to feed into the UK negotiating line, even in policy areas such as fishing where it has 70 per cent of the UK industry and agriculture where the UK Government's vision for the future of the Common Agricultural Policy is quite distinct from the Scottish Government's; independence would enable Scotland to have its own voice in Europe and argue robustly in favour of its own farming, fishing and environmental interests without its views being diluted.
- Climate change - Scotland has the most ambitious climate change targets in the world; energy policy and regulation are reserved to Westminister, as are vehicle excise duty and fuel duty - these are all important potential levers for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Zero waste - Scotland has ambitious plans to become a zero waste society; landfill tax is an effective way of discouraging waste but at present Scotland can increase landfill bans but has no powers to control landfill tax.
- Food - the UK Government consistently rejects Scotland's opposition to GM crops and foods when EU votes are taken on the issue; independence would also allow Scotland to create a Supermarket Ombudsman - the Scottish Government has long supported such a figure but the UK Government has yet to do so.
Two recent reports highlight the importance of Scotland being able to have an independent voice in Europe:
- Research into the impact the UK Government's vision for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy showed the devastating effect it would have on Scottish farming
- A report on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) showed that it had "systemic failures" and recommended greater regionalisation of fisheries management
The public are invited to have your say to shape Scotland's input into EU plans for CFP reform.