Most Scots want a new watchdog to enforce environmental protections after Brexit, according to a survey.

A poll commissioned by the National Trust for Scotland found eight out of ten members of the public agree that a new, independent environmental watchdog will be needed when current protections are lost.

The conservation charity said the creation of such a body would ensure existing EU environmental protections are not abandoned and new government policies are properly scrutinised.

The European Commission and the European Court of Justice currently help to monitor and maintain environmental laws in EU member states, covering issues such as air and water quality, and the protection of wildlife.

These bodies are independent of government, and have resources and expertise to launch investigations and, if necessary, to fine governments.

The survey of 1,000 Scots found 81 per cent said they would support, or strongly support, a new body to ensure robust levels of environmental protection are not undermined. Sixty-seven percent of those polled thought that this body should be independent of government.

The issue unites those who support Brexit and those opposed, with support high among people who had voted leave in 2016 (81 per cent) and those who had vote remain (91 per cent), and across party political boundaries.

Asked what kind of powers any new body should have, the public said it should be able to require the Scottish Government to report on progress (69 per cent), to respond to complaints from the public (71 per cent), to be able to initiate investigations, and where necessary to be able to take enforcement actions against the Scottish Government (60 per cent).

Author of the Trust research paper ‘The accountability gap: Scottish environmental protections post-Brexit’, the National Trust for Scotland’s Head of Public Policy, Diarmid Hearns said: “Scotland’s environment needs strong protection. That’s why we are asking for an independent watchdog to ensure that the high standards that are currently enforced through the EU continue to be upheld in the coming years. With the impact of climate change, the pressures of development and many other challenges ahead, this has never been more important."

The National Trust for Scotland is, as part of the Scottish Environment LINK network, campaigning for a whole range of protections to safeguard our environment after 31 October. The Fight for Scotland’s Nature campaign seeks to safeguard and enhance Scotland’s environment at all levels.