Talking Dirty – An Environmental Blog: SEPA Revised Enforcement Policy.
Back but briefer than usual, this version of ‘Talking Dirty’ is a reminder to all those regulated by SEPA (the Scottish Environment Protection Agency) to partake in the currently running consultation on its revised enforcement policy and new guidance on its approach to enforcement generally which closes on 22nd October 2015.
Over the last couple of years, many operators have experienced a change in the more stringent way that SEPA has been dealing with enforcement, particularly when you consider the number of matters that have been referred to the Procurator Fiscal. The new enforcement measures are intended to deal with the ‘compliance gap’ which exists between SEPA referring very serious matters for criminal prosecution and the use of warnings or statutory notices for offences at the lower end of the scale by providing SEPA with a wider, more flexible range of options. Hopefully, less significant cases can be dealt with under the new measures to allow more proportionate action at an earlier stage, encourage behavioural change and avoid the need for reports to be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.
The measures currently proposed are:
- the imposition of fixed monetary penalties (over three levels: £300; £600 and £1,000) and variable monetary penalties (in respect of which there will be a separate consultation). See provisional list of offences in respect of which these penalties may be incurred – https://consultation.sepa.org.uk/change-programme/consultation-on-sepa-enforcement-policy-guidance/supporting_documents/relevantoffences.pdf.
- the acceptance of enforcement undertakings which are voluntary offers made by the responsible person and formally accepted by SEPA to remedy non-compliance and prevent recurrence. They must provide firm commitment to continual improvement in performance.
The focus of the new policy is on changing behaviour and so the emphasis of any action taken will be, not just on securing compliance but also on deterring future non-compliance.
There is a need for all levels of those within SEPA (from officers on the ground to high level management) to understand the behaviour of those who are non-compliant but that needs operators to respond to the consultation! This could be a positive step forward if it is designed and thereafter implemented in the right way but industry needs to make its views known now so that the practical impact can be controlled as much as possible.
I’ll be back soon and in the meantime, if any of you have any views, comments or suggestions of specific ‘dirt’ that you would like to see discussed here then please get in touch – email, phone, twitter or linked-in. I’ll be back with another blog post again soon!