Scottish Borders Council

Agenda and draft minutes

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Link: Teams live event

No. Item


Minute pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Consider Minute of Meeting held on 31 January 2020 (copy attached).


1.            Welcome

Chairman, Councillor Aitchison, welcomed Members, officers and members of the public to the on-line meeting of the Sustainable Development Committee. In his introduction, he referred to the first meeting of the Committee held in January and the proposal at that meeting to take a report on the climate emergency to Council.  That report had been produced but delayed due to being overtaken by events in the form of the Covid-19 outbreak.   Hopefully the report would now go to Council at the end of this month.  The paper had been amended slightly in reflection of the emergency response to the pandemic and Councillor Aitchison referred to the question ‘was Covid-19 a dress rehearsal for the climate emergency?’  He explained that the purpose of this meeting was to catch-up and to gather information.  He welcomed the guest speakers to the meeting and strongly recommended that Members accessed all the supporting papers referred to in the presentations via the links provided in the agenda (also included in the text below).


There had been circulated copies of the Minute of the meeting of 31 January 2020.



APPROVED for signature by the Chairman.



Councillors Edgar and Haslam joined the meeting during the discussion below.




Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Report and its local implications.

Presentation by Charles Dundas, Chair of Scottish Environment LINK and Chief Executive Officer of Borders Forest Trust


Supporting Documents:

1.   IPBES report

2.   State of Nature Scotland

3.   ScotLink: Nature on Red Alert





3.1       The Chairman introduced Charles Dundas, Chief Executive of Borders Forest Trust (BFT) and Chair of Scottish Environment LINK.  Mr Dundas was in attendance to give a presentation, accompanied by slides, entitled “The Climate and Biodiversity Crises – globally and at home”. He explained that, in 2019, the UN established Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a global assessment of humanity’s relationship with nature.  This was written by more than 500 experts from over 100 countries.  It concluded that such was the rate of decline that the risks posed by biodiversity loss should be considered on the same scale as those of climate change.  This alarming trend endangered economies, livelihoods, food security and the quality of life of people everywhere.  It was estimated that we were losing around 135 plant, animal and insect species every day. The seven principle drivers of loss were identified as: the changing use of the land and sea; over-exploitation of species; climate change; pollution; invasive non-native species; and indirect effects arising from people’s disconnect with nature; and a lack of value and importance placed on nature.  Mr Dundas explained that, on a more local level, Scottish Environment LINK was the forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment community, with over 35 member bodies representing a broad spectrum of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society.  LINK and SNH’s the State of Nature Scotland report 2019 revealed that, since recording began, 49% of Scottish species had decreased whilst 28% had increased.  The presentation went on to look at historical losses incurred within Scotland, relating to changes in land use within the 20th century. Between the 1940s and 1980s the area of broadleaved and mixed woodland fell by 23% and 37% respectively and native Caledonian pine forests now covered less than 90,000 hectares – just over 6% of the original area. The current situation, in terms of woodland, was that just 22% of the total woodland area in Scotland was native, the rest was non-native. In the Scottish Borders just 7% of the total woodland area was native, which represented 1.4% of the total land area of the Scottish Borders.  Mr Dundas concluded his presentation by showing slides of areas of the borders where work was being carried out to plant native woodland. BFT owned over 3000ha of land in the border area and to date 738ha of that land had been planted with native woodland and over 1000ha planted on privately owned land.  With most of the work being carried out by volunteers, BFT worked alongside landowners and other organisations in the borders to restore and protect natural habitats.


3.2       Members welcomed the presentation and discussed the challenges raised, with Mr Dundas answering questions on particular points.  Members expressed concern about the south of Scotland’s wooded area being dominated by non-native species and an apparent national policy for the planting of large areas of commercial woodland in this area. Mr Dundas referred to the need for an alternative  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Climate Change: A Just Transition pdf icon PDF 200 KB

A Just Transition – Interim Report, further work of the Commission and a Borders’ perspective

Presentation by Kate Rowell, Just Transition Commissioner:


Supporting documents:

1.       Just Transition Commission Interim Report, February 2020

2.       SBC Response to the Just Transition Commission Interim Report (copy attached)

3.       Just Transition Commission Advice for a Green Recovery, July 2020

4.       Report of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery

5.    Infrastructure Commission: Key Findings Exec Summary (Jan 2020)

6.    CERG – Climate Emergency Report (Aug 2019)

7.     CERG – 8 policy Packages for a Green Recover (July 2020)






4.1       The Chairman introduced Kate Rowell, who in addition to being a Just Transition Commissioner, was Chair of Quality Meat Scotland, a livestock farmer in the Scottish Borders and qualified vet.  She was also on the South of Scotland Enterprise agency Board.  The Just Transition Commission was established by Scottish Ministers in January 2019 to advise on how just transition principles could be applied to climate change action in Scotland.  As an explanation Ms Rowell referred to the quote: “The imperative of a just transition is that Governments design policies in a way that ensures the benefits of climate change action are shared widely, while the costs do not unfairly burden those less able to pay, or whose livelihoods are directly or indirectly at risk as the economy shifts and changes”.  Just Transition was an internationally recognised movement but Scotland was first to look at the principles on a whole country basis and, with climate change as a focus, to also use opportunities presented to adjust existing inequalities. The Commission was made up of academics, environmentalists and representatives from organisations including Trade Unions, agriculture, industry including oil and gas and representing youth groups - the 2050 Climate Group.  The Commission had also been asked by the Cabinet Secretary for advice on a green recovery from the Covid-19 outbreak. To gather information and with the realisation that it would be useful to meet groups on an informal basis, meetings had been held in different locations within Scotland, focusing on different groups and sectors; for example a meeting was held in Melrose focusing on land use and agriculture.  The Commission’s interim report, summarising emerging themes, initial recommendations and plans for the year ahead, was published in February 2020 (see link below to the interim report).  During the summer in a ‘Call for Evidence’, the Commission invited written submissions to inform the development of final recommendations.  The submission from Scottish Borders Council had been circulated with the agenda.


4.2       Ms Rowell referred to three main themes, described within the interim report:

  • Planning ahead – the need for clear transition plans to be developed.  Ms Rowell emphasised the importance of a strategic vision and transition plans for each sector to provide certainty and empowerment to encourage buy-in from all stakeholders.
  • Engagement - the need for on-going and proactive dialogue with all areas of society as the behaviour of everyone would need to change to meet Scotland’s climate change ambition.
  • Equity – action to tackle climate change had the potential to create both winners and losers – this transition must be fair.  An example was the potential inequality faced in rural communities and the importance of paying attention to connectivity when changing transport systems, where networks in rural areas may be less resilient.


4.3       In the ensuing discussion Members expressed their keen support for the principles behind the Just Transition movement and asked Ms Rowell for more information about particular issues. With regard to help that could be given to farmers for transition Ms Rowell  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.



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