First major Enforcement Undertaking secures more than £280,000 of environmental benefits for communities impacted by AWPR pollution

date21 December 2017

Over £280,000 has been committed to community projects and environmental improvements across Aberdeenshire, following the use of a new enforcement power by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to accept an offer of an enforcement undertaking.

Following extensive investigations and enforcement action by SEPA between 2015 and 2017, the Construction Joint Venture (CJV) building the multi-million pound Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) have offered the funding in an Offer of Enforcement Undertaking, after causing a series of silt pollution incidents which affected Aberdeenshire rivers, the Dee and the Don.

The Enforcement Undertaking admits full liability by the AWPR B-T Construction Joint Venture (CJV) for the pollution and will result in the funding being divided between eight community initiatives as a penalty for the disruption and environmental impact. 

Aberdeen Roads Limited is constructing the new 36-mile road which will provide a fast link between towns between the North, South and West of Aberdeen. 

The offer, which required the Construction Joint Venture to engage with local stakeholders, has been formally accepted by SEPA, thus securing one of the biggest financial outcomes for an environmental offence in Scotland.  It is only the fourth of its kind to be accepted by SEPA. 

Granted as a new enforcement power in June 2016, an Enforcement Undertaking represents a formal offer by an organisation or individual to make amends for an offence by improving the environment or communities affected, using their own resources.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency Chief Executive, Terry A’Hearn, said:

“Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment and we will respond robustly to organisations who fail to comply with environmental controls.  Every operator must comply.

“It’s right that the Construction Joint Venture should offer this significant enforcement undertaking in recognition of the environmental impact of their actions, which resulted in a series of silt pollution incidents impacting numerous tributaries to Aberdeenshire rivers, the Dee and the Don.

"We are delighted that CJV has become one of the first operators to use the new enforcement undertaking.  The CJV has stepped forward, accepted responsibility and set out to put things right.

“An enforcement undertaking not only compels those who breach the law to make amends, it instils a more positive working relationship based on understanding the duty we all share in safeguarding our natural environment”.

The new enforcement power can be used to bring about effective and immediate solutions to environmental offences and requires the offender to work with SEPA to ensure ongoing compliance in future, as well as making appropriate restitution.

The biggest beneficiary of the undertaking is the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board, who will receive £112,500 for improvement projects relating to diffuse pollution, and £37,500 to fund an Agricultural Officer for 2 years to assist farm owners in reducing diffuse pollution in the River Don. 

Richard Gledson, Chairman, Dee District Salmon Fisheries Board, added:

“Silt pollution from the construction of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route gave us great cause for concern, particularly as the River Dee is designated as a special habitat for both salmonid fish and fresh water pearl mussels, which rely on a delicate eco-system to feed and spawn.

“We welcome both the immediate response by SEPA, including the temporary restriction of construction activity, their investigation, and today’s enforcement undertaking. This will provide for environmental improvements that will go some way to offsetting the impact on local communities and the environment.”

In addition to the funding for community and environmental benefits, SEPA will also recover £47,958 as part of the offer. This lump sum will be made by the CJV as a contribution towards the time spent investigating the various pollution incidents which resulted from their construction works.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Summary of proposals within the Offer of Enforcement Undertaking

Who

What

Total

Dee District Salmon Fishery Board

Diffuse pollution improvement projects & 2 year Agricultural Officer

£150,000

Newtonhill Community Centre

Donation to support surfacing of car park

£40,000

Newtonhill Environmental Action Team

Provision of litter pickers and new shed

£1,850

Stonehaven District Angling
Association

Purchase of a Fishcounter

£21,000

Maryculter Woodland

Donation to allow path works

£20,000

Aberdeen District Angling
Association

Purchase of benches and equipment to support path works

£20,000

Ythan Volunteer Group

Donation to support Tarty Burn invasive species treatment

£2,000

Newtonhill History Group

Heritage project

£3,000

N/A

Detailed Invertebrate study

£20,000

Construction Industry

AWPR Lessons Learned Paper

£3,000

 

Overall total

£ 280,850

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Environmental Regulation (Enforcement Measures) (Scotland) Order 2015 gave SEPA the power to impose monetary penalties and accept voluntary undertakings and set the framework and procedure for their use.  More information on these powers can be found on our website under Enforcement policy and enforcement guidance.