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Examination of Witnesses

Part of Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:47 pm on 12th March 2020.

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John Bynorth:

Certainly, there is no point in having two sets of rules, two sets of penalties and two sets of punishments for each part of the country. In a multinational world, there are UK-wide operators such as haulage, oil refineries and petroleum companies. We have a problem at the moment in Scotland with Mossmorran in Fife, an ExxonMobil-owned company, which is having problems with flaring that are affecting local communities. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency is trying to deal with it, but it keeps happening again and it is causing terrible problems for people living in the area, with noise and other issues. You need to have consistency in dealing with that between the different parts of the country.

The other issue is that if penalties in Scotland were different from those in England, companies might up sticks and move their business completely to England, which would affect the economy. Consistency is vital. The same applies with emissions: we have clean air zones down here, but low emission zones in Scotland. The types of restrictions on bringing petrol and diesel vehicles into cities, and on haulage companies, need to be very similar—I think that is happening—so that our economy is not damaged, but the rules and penalties are made clear to people and are UK-wide.

Maybe there should be a joint memorandum of understanding between the new protection body that we will get in Scotland and the OEP, once they are up and running. That could be a key part of what they do, with the civil servants from each body talking to each other and ensuring that they set out what our principles are, what we have in common and where the differences are, so that people, and businesses in particular, are clear on that.