Sepa gets backing for reforms

11th January 2013


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  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Control ,
  • Prevention & Control ,
  • Environment agencies

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IEMA

Proposals to simplify and integrate the regulatory framework in Scotland for waste, water, industrial pollution and radioactive substances have received backing from Scottish businesses and environmental groups

A consultation on the plans by the Scottish government and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) ended on 4 August last year, and analysis of the feedback by the regulator reveals strong support for the proposals.

Overall, 82% of the 89 respondents agreed that an integrated framework for licences, permits and rules controlling potentially harmful activities would provide more effective protection of the environment and human health.

Respondents also support changes to the enforcement tools available to the regulator, which Sepa says would enable it to adopt a more proportionate, risk-based approach to deter non-compliance.

Commenting on the favourable response, Sepa chair David Sigsworth said: “We want to work with businesses to make it simpler and easier to comply with environmental regulations, but we won’t let wanton lawbreakers undermine legitimate operations.

“In the future, Sepa will have more direct powers to complement our existing enforcement tools and provide new ways to protect the environment.”

Respondents to the consultation did raise several concerns with the proposed new regime, however, including the route for appeals to enforcement decisions, the need for clarity on enforcement policy, and implementing the new framework.

Sepa says it is now working with the Scottish government and businesses to build a consensus on the way forward.

Meanwhile, the government says plans for a single environmental permissions and compliance system will be included in its Better Regulation Bill, which it will shortly introduce to the Scottish parliament.

In addition to enabling Sepa to adopt a more risk-based approach to regulation, the Bill will also aim to address regulatory inconsistencies and introduce further changes to the planning system.

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