2014 Compliance Assessment Scheme results published

date20 October 2015

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has today (20 October) published its Compliance Assessment Scheme figures for 2014, which show that 88% of operators assessed have achieved a rating of excellent, good or broadly compliant.

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The Compliance Assessment Scheme (CAS) outlines how well permitted operators in Scotland have met the conditions of their licences on an annual basis and helps SEPA to identify problem areas which require greater focus for improvement. Introduced in 2009, the scheme covers operators with Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Part A and Part B permits, Waste Management Licences (WML), Controlled Activity Regulations (CAR) discharges and sites licensed under the Radioactive Substances Act (RSA).

Of the 5305 licensed activities assessed as part of the 2014 scheme, 3876 (73%) were rated Excellent, 726 (14%) as Good and 64 (1%) as Broadly Compliant. The remaining were classed At Risk (268 or 5%), Poor (311 or 6%) and Very Poor (60 or 1%).

The overall compliance rate has decreased by 2% since 2013, and the results do mean that SEPA has not met its target of 91% overall compliance in 2014. This target is set out in SEPA’s Annual Operating Plan, and is one of the most stringent compliance targets in Europe.   

Of the non-compliance found across various sectors, one of the primary issues arose from the quality and quantity of data return submitted by operators. The addition of 1187 Water Resource licences for the first time under CAS, accounts for roughly 3% of the overall non-compliance figure for 2014, the majority of non-compliance being associated with data returns. These licences have been added as part of a phased introduction of new licence regimes under CAS andvary from large scale public water supply or industrial abstractions, to smaller scale irrigation schemes. Had these licences been included within the 2013 CAS results, the overall compliance rate would have been 86%.

SEPA Executive Director, Calum MacDonald, said:                                                                                    

Ensuring compliance with our environmental licences sits firmly at the centre of our work to protect and improve the environment. Although the overall 88% compliance rate is welcome, I am obviously disappointed to see the overall compliance level decline during 2014. We are always seeking ways to improve the performance of those we regulate, and indeed our own performance as regulator, which is why we’ve set ourselves one of the most ambitious compliance targets in Europe.

“Non-compliance is not an option and several initiatives are currently ongoing which aim to drive up compliance across each sector where ratings have been less than satisfactory.”

Compliance assessment is conducted using a risk based approach, which targets high risk operations and under-performing sites more frequently than compliant or low risk operators.

A full list of licences assessed under CAS and the details of compliance is available on the SEPA website alongside a new improved map based view of those assessed in 2014. A grading is provided for sites classified as water resources or radioactive substance licences, however further details of their locations and ownership are undisclosed for reasons of national security.  

CAS is currently the focus of an ongoing consultation, which looks to make the scheme more consistent and proportionate for the businesses SEPA regulate. The consultation is open to the public until 12 November, 2015. For full details, visit the SEPA’s Consultation page.


Notes to editors

  • The CAS results on the SEPA website

  • For more information
    on CAS, how it works and the targets we have set for this year, more
    information can be found in our SEPAView article, Compliance Assessment Scheme – What’s it all about?
  • SEPA uses a risk assessment system to determine the frequency of inspections. It is designed to plan and target inspections at licenced sites based on the nature of activities (how hazardous they are), the level of risk to the environment, and operator performance and compliance.

  • The Compliance Assessment Scheme (CAS) allows SEPA to concentrate its efforts on sites of higher risk and also non-compliant / failing sites. The focus of this approach has moved SEPA from purely identifying non-compliance to also identifying the root-cause of non-compliance to prevent future occurrence.