A NEW strategy to protect and restore Scotland's natural environment has been published by the Scottish government – pledging to keep the country aligned with European Union environmental standards.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Scotland’s natural environment is our greatest national asset and it is fundamental to our future, our health, our quality of life and our economy. A healthy and diverse environment is essential to the wellbeing of our economy and people.

"We are clear that remaining in the EU is the best way to nurture our environment and we profoundly regret that Scotland is being taken out of the EU against our will. However, as we move outside the EU frameworks, that have guided our approach for half a century, it is vital that Scotland demonstrates a coherent, integrated approach to the environment that is governed effectively.

“That is why we will embed the EU environmental principles into law so they can continue to guide new policy and legislation in future," she said.

“This strategy will also do more though. It will be a living and evolving approach, able to adapt to new evidence as it emerges and refocus work to take advantage of new opportunities or address new challenges.”

To ensure environmental standards are maintained once the Brexit transition period ends, ScotGov intends to establish an independent public body to oversee compliance with environmental law.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, added: "This document is founded on two undeniable facts: that the EU will continue to be of fundamental importance to Scotland and that Scotland will continue to be of importance to the EU, contributing to the EU's goals."