SEPA publishes 'Sustainability report'

date13 January 2016

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has exceeded targets for reducing its waste, significantly cut gas consumption across its estate and, for the sixth consecutive year, put the brakes on its travel and transport emissions, according to a new report which has been published today (13 January 2016).

The ‘Sustainability report’ demonstrates the Agency’s achievements and actions to help tackle climate change (for the period covering 2014 – 2015), including:

  • Reducing emissions from transport and travel by a further 1.3% during 2014-2015, exceeding the Agency's target to maintain emissions at 2013-2014 levels. Emissions from all SEPA’s flights are now the lowest they have been since the Agency started recording this information, and emissions from domestic (non-island) flights have dropped by 97% since 2006 – 2007.
  • Reducing its energy consumption: Gas consumption was down 27.5%, oil consumption was down 4% and electricity consumption was broadly flat, rising just 0.4%.   These savings were enabled by a combination of rationalising our estate and by reducing energy demands in our buildings. 
  • Continuing to exceed its targets for waste and once again improving its levels of recycling to a new high of 75% (well above the national average). SEPA has estimated (using a carbon waste metric developed by Zero Waste Scotland) that its recycling activities prevented 114 tonnes of CO2e (the      contribution of each greenhouse gas) being released into the atmosphere last year.
  • Implementing a range of biodiversity projects across its estate and through outreach work.

Despite the reduction in emissions from travel, and a fall in energy consumption, SEPA’s overall emissions of greenhouse gases rose by 2.7%.  This was due to changes, in how electricity consumption is converted into emissions.

This is set at a UK level and rose by over 10% compared to the year before. If this electricity grid conversion factor had remained at the same carbon intensity, then SEPA would be able to report a 4.2% reduction in its emissions from buildings and a 2.95% reduction overall.

SEPA is continuing to work towards reducing overall emissions across its estate and, for example, has achieved a 12% reduction in electricity consumption at its Angus Smith Building through a variety of energy saving measures.

Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of SEPA, said:

As Scotland’s environmental regulator, acting sustainably must be at the core of everything we do. The people of Scotland expect us to lead by example and this is a responsibility which we take very seriously.

“This year we have achieved impressive results - our transport and travel emissions have reduced for the sixth year in a row, our waste recycling is the highest it has ever been, and we have also reduced energy consumption across our estate. These are significant achievements and we have achieved them through targeted investments in our estate and by making alternatives to travel such as video conferencing more widely available.  It is also the result of the commitment and hard work of our staff to reduce SEPA’s environmental footprint.  

“I am frustrated that despite all of this good work our overall emissions rose as a result of circumstances beyond our control.  I am confident however that the steps we are taking put us on a clear long term trajectory of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  With the historic global agreement on climate change in Paris last month, our work in this area is more important than ever.

“In addition to our work to reduce our own impacts, we also understand that we must also work in partnership to help Scotland’s communities and businesses to adapt to the changes that are occurring in our environment, and support their attempts to innovate and prosper as part of transitioning to a low carbon economy.

“We will continue to work openly and honestly towards improving our performance, and ensure we provide the expertise, leadership and evidence that Scotland’s communities and businesses can use to make the right choices and demonstrate sustainability.”