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October 23, 2003 12:00 AM

Nora Radcliffe MSPA radical new initiative that will greatly boost the protection of Scotland's environment has been welcomed as a 'landmark' development by Scottish Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Nora Radcliffe MSP.

Responding to Environment Minister Ross Finnie's speech to the Sustainable Network Conference today, where he unveiled details of a two-step plan to bring about 'Strategic Environmental Assessment', Nora Radcliffe said:

"This is a landmark development. The introduction of Strategic Environmental Assessment means that for the first time the environment will be a key consideration in every new Executive policy area in Scotland.

"Delivery of this key Scottish Liberal Democrat policy - contained in our 2003 manifesto and now in the Partnership Agreement - underlines the fact that we are the party that not only campaigns positively for environmental protection, but also delivers action to protect and improve our environment.

"Communities across Scotland will welcome new laws that will clearly set out the rights members of the public have to be involved at every stage of the decision-making process and to have their say on plans that will affect their local environment.

"The two-stage process to deliver this policy is a sensible way ahead. This dual approach will allow the directive to be implemented according to the EU timetable, and also ensure that the Scottish Parliament meets its commitment to delivering open and responsive government, through evidence taking and public consultation."