Industry support for improvements in environmental regulation across Scotland

date20 December 2012

Industry and environmental bodies strongly support new proposals aimed at providing better protection of the environment.

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A recent joint consultation by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Scottish Government, published today, has shown that there is overwhelming support for new proposals which will see environmental regulation simplified and a more integrated framework for environmental regulation employed.

Consultation analysis showed strong support from industry, non governmental environment organisations, and public sector partners, for the direction of the proposals and 82% agreed that the overall proposals would provide more effective protection of the environment and human health.

The joint consultation builds on previous stakeholder engagement and asked for views on proposals to deliver a simplified and integrated framework for the regulation of waste, water, industrial pollution and radioactive substances in Scotland. Views were also sought on proposals for new enforcement tools to be made available to SEPA to deal with non-compliance.

SEPA Chairman, David Sigsworth, said of the consultation:

The response to this consultation is very encouraging.

"We want to work with businesses to make it simpler and easier to comply with environmental regulations and adopt good environmental practices, but we won't let wanton lawbreakers undermine legitimate business operations. We also want to help make businesses more successful.

"Stakeholders agreed that SEPA should be able to draw on a broader range of enforcement tools and be tougher with those who blatantly disregard their environmental obligations.

"In the future SEPA will have more direct powers to complement our existing enforcement tools and provide new ways to protect the environment.

"Communities will benefit from knowing that SEPA will in the future be able to focus its resources on the highest environmental risks and on operators whose compliance is unacceptable."

Also commenting on the results of the consultation, Scottish Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said:

Protecting the environment and helping business to flourish can and should go hand in hand.

"There are too many examples of growth being constrained by inconsistency in the regulations and procedures currently in place– and we know that stakeholders can often get frustrated. We must ensure there is greater consistency and a more proportionate implementation of environmental regulation – and the new approach outlined in our consultation will do just that.

"Most operators in Scotland comply with and often go beyond the necessary environmental regulations. Our proposals, which the industry and environmental bodies overwhelmingly support, will help to further unwind complexity for these operators, making it easier for them to understand their obligations while saving them money and helping to create a level playing field."

SEPA and the Scottish Government are working with operators and other stakeholders to build consensus on the way forward.  Concerns raised are being acted on, for example on the route for appeals to enforcement decisions, the need for clarity around the enforcement policy and on implementation of the new framework.

As part of the joint SEPA - Scottish Government, Better Environmental Regulation agenda close work with stakeholders will continue to improve the way environmental regulations are applied in practice across Scotland.

The consultation response is available to view online.


Notes to editors