Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

The Regulatory Reform Act is designed to promote the use of common standards to all government regulators. All regulators will be bound by a Regulator’s Code of Practice which will be produced by the Scottish government.

The act contains provisions that will affect how SEPA operates, particularly in respect to the way permissions are granted and the way offences are dealt with.

Who will the Regulations Affect?

The regulations will affect all businesses that require an authorisation, permit, license or any other form of permission. Businesses will be able to apply for a single site permit that covers all existing types of permit. Businesses will also be able to apply for an operator permit that will cover a number of sites.

The regulations will also affect businesses that are found to be non-compliant with environmental legislation. There will be a wider range of possible sanctions that can be applied to them, allowing fines or other actions to be more in proportion to the severity of the offence.

What are the main provisions of the new Regulations?

There are provisions for:

  • New court sentencing powers
  • New enforcement powers for SEPA
  • Changes to way permits, authorisations and licenses are made; coming into force in 2016/17

A range of sanctions that can be applied to businesses that breach environmental regulations are included in the act. SEPA will be able to use Fixed Penalty fines (up to £2,500) for minor offences, Variable fines (up to £40,000) for more serious offences as well as the existing option of pursuing criminal prosecutions.

In addition there will be a new offence of causing “Environmental Harm” where the severity of the harm caused determines the scale of the fine or other sanction.  Paying, or taking actions, to mitigate the effects of an incident and repair damage done will be one option available.

SEPA will move towards issuing single, risk based permits, with all regulatory regimes being brought together under one structure with one common procedure for applications. There will also be a common set of sanctions.

There will be an online portal for applications to simplify the process further.

Further Information

Scottish Government: Better Environmental Regulation

Legislation.gov.uk: Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

Scottish Government: Regulatory Reform Act

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