14 February 2019
SEPA is clear that compliance is non-negotiable. HES remains responsible for meeting environmental obligations under their permits, and to ensure that waste is removed from their sites to authorised treatment or disposal facilities.
Having served enforcement notices in September and December 2018, inspections by SEPA demonstrate that Healthcare Environmental Services continues not to fully comply with the requirements set out in the enforcement notice for their Hassockrigg site. Specifically this relates to the failure to manage clinical waste within timescales required by the site operating permit.
SEPA is undertaking regular inspections of the sites and is working with other authorities to ensure that the environment and local communities are fully protected. Our inspections have not identified any current risk of pollution from the waste stored on the sites.
On 16 November HES applied to SEPA to transfer existing Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permits* for the Hassockrigg and Dundee sites from Healthcare Environmental Services Limited to HEG Sustainable Solutions Limited. These were determined and refused by SEPA on 16th January on the basis that:
- Adequate financial provision had not been made by the proposed transferee and therefore they did not meet the required ‘fit and proper person’ criteria; and
- SEPA had concluded that the proposed transferee would not ensure compliance with permit conditions.
The applicant has a statutory right of appeal against SEPA’s decision to refuse the transfer applications and may lodge an appeal up to 6 months from the date of refusal. No appeal has been received by SEPA to date.
Breaching environmental legislation is a criminal offence and in January SEPA launched an investigation into whether criminal offences have been committed.
Further enforcement action could also include a referral to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
SEPA is continuing to work with the Scottish Government, NHS National Services Scotland and health boards on contingency arrangements for the storage and disposal of clinical waste. All agreed contingency measures ensure that the environment and human health are appropriately protected. SEPA is continuing to monitor the operation of these arrangements and to date our inspections have not identified any risk to human health or the environment.
*PPC – Pollution Prevention and Control. The Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (PPC 2012) came into force on 7 January 2013 to implement the requirements of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). These apply an integrated environmental approach to the regulation of certain industrial activities. This means that emissions to air, water (including discharges to sewer) and land, plus a range of other environmental effects, must be considered together. More information here: https://www.sepa.org.uk/regulations/pollution-prevention-and-control/