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UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2021

Section 23 - Co-operation duties of public authorities and Environmental Standards Scotland

109.Section 23 sets obligations on public authorities to co-operate with Environmental Standards Scotland. This is to ensure that Environmental Standards Scotland is able to carry out its functions, and enable public authorities and Environmental Standards Scotland to resolve matters by agreement wherever possible.

110.Subsection (1) requires public authorities to co-operate and provide reasonable assistance following requests made by Environmental Standards Scotland in connection with the exercise of its functions, including the provision of information.

111.Subsection (2) requires public authorities to make all reasonable efforts to swiftly resolve any matter which Environmental Standards Scotland raises concerning a failure to comply with environmental law, a failure to make effective environmental law or a failure to implement or apply it effectively. Public authorities are further required to make all reasonable efforts to reach agreement with Environmental Standards Scotland on any remedial action needed to be taken by the authority for the purpose of environmental protection.

112.Subsection (3) places a duty on Environmental Standards Scotland to consult the Office for Environmental Protection, or any equivalent environmental governance body in Wales or Northern Ireland, where Environmental Standards Scotland considers that the exercising of its functions may be relevant to the exercise of that body’s functions (for example, where a matter has a cross-border impact). The Environment Bill(6) likewise places a duty on the Office for Environmental Protection to consult devolved environmental governance bodies. The intention is that this duty will be placed symmetrically on all environmental governance bodies in the UK. This duty to consult stands alongside Environmental Standards Scotland’s power to collaborate with those bodies as set out in section 20(2)(g).


Information on the progress of the Environment Bill and a copy of the Bill following it’s Commons Committee Stage is available on the UK Parliament’s website, which can be accessed via this web link.

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Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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