Response to Edinburgh Evening News article on environmental regulation

date04 July 2017

The following letter was published in the Edinburgh Evening News on Tuesday 4 July:

“In response to the concerns raised by Mr Kirkwood in your article entitled “Self-monitoring at Seafield sewage work causes stink” (published Wednesday, 28 June), I would like to clarify a number of points which may have been misleading from last week’s coverage. SEPA’s Regulatory Evidence Strategy (RES), published in 2015, is aimed at making our monitoring more efficient and cost effective for the taxpayer by placing responsibility for monitoring directly on the operator. This in no way reduces our remit as environmental regulator, but allows us to focus our efforts on monitoring activities that have the greatest environmental impact.

“Compliance is not optional and every operator will be expected to pass our rigorous certification scheme, Measurement Assurance and Certification Scotland (MACS), which will be reviewed and independently scrutinised by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). This scrutiny will extend to all monitoring data submitted by regulated operators and, more importantly, will assess the processes used by each operator to acquire their monitoring results. More targeted, risk-based monitoring will continue to be carried out by SEPA on operators who have higher risk activities, alongside increased monitoring of the environment in the vicinity of regulated sites, which can include an emphasis on odour control, the primary cause for public complaints associated with the Seafield facility.

“It’s important to stress that self-monitoring does not mean self-regulation and all breaches of environmental legislation will be thoroughly investigated and dealt with to ensure compliance. We welcome the opportunity to discuss any concerns directly with Mr Kirkwood and the local community to provide reassurance around the self-monitoring which our Regulatory Evidence Strategy will put into action.”

Carol McGinnes, SEPA Area Manager.