Sepa agrees first sustainable growth agreement

21st March 2017


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Author

Edward Hargreaves

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) has signed a first business up to its new strategy working with firms on environmental improvement rather than just regulatory compliance.

When launching its renewed focus last August, Sepa said that the original reason for creating environment protection agencies had largely been accomplished, and that regulators must also help society tackle wider environmental issues such as climate change and overuse of resources.

Scotland’s regulator announced that it would be signing businesses up to Sustainable Growth Agreements (SGAs), which are voluntary agreements between it and an organisation (or organisations) that focus on practical action to deliver environmental improvements.

Through the agreements, Sepa will help organisations collaborate with experts, innovators and stakeholders on different approaches that could improve environmental performance as well as deliver commercial and social success. Under an SGA, Sepa retains its regulatory and enforcement powers and will deploy them in the same way as previously.

Stirling-based Superglass yesterday signed an SGA, the first company to do so. It commits the mineral wool insulation manufacturer to reduce water use, effluent, supply chain impacts and greenhouse-gas emissions. Superglass will also aim to enhance innovation, develop community engagement and explore emerging opportunities to improve environmental, social and economic outcomes.

Sepa has already convened a workshop including representatives from business, campaign groups and the wider environmental sector to advise Superglass.

The firm had previously had problems complying with its licence from Sepa, scoring ‘poor’ in 2012. It has been responsible for minor breaches such as failing to report a weekend fire until Monday. However, its plant at Thistle Industrial Estate in Stirling complies with its licence and it has significantly reduced ammonia emissions, according to a spokesman from Sepa.

Sepa chief executive Terry A’Hearn said: ‘This agreement marks a milestone for environmental management in Scotland. It commits Sepa and Superglass to a set of practical actions, not vague words. These actions will improve the environment, strengthen Superglass’s business viability and benefit the local community. This is what 21st century environmental management must deliver.’

The regulator plans to launch a further two SGAs by the end of May, and agree another three by the end of the year.

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