Exceptional board leaders required for Scotland’s environment protection agency as Chair, Bob Downes, reappointed

date19 June 2019

Exceptional board leaders are required to help transform Scotland’s environment protection agency (SEPA) as a recruitment campaign for four new board members is launched. The recruitment comes as the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, today announced the reappointment of Bob Downes as Chair of the Board.

  • Recruitment opens for four new board members to join Scotland’s Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
  • SEPA Chair, Bob Downes, Reappointed to role.

The new board members will both help create a world-class EPA fit for the challenges of tomorrow and ensure the delivery of the agency’s ambitious strategy, One Planet Prosperity.  The strategy focuses on helping businesses and communities thrive within the resources of our planet.

“The scale of environmental challenge facing humanity is enormous, with a real urgency to act”, said Chair Bob Downes.  “Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment, helping communities and businesses thrive within the resources of our planet.  We call this One Planet Prosperity.

“We’re firmly focused on building on the significant progress made and to further supporting Scotland’s globally ambitious sustainability objectives.  That’s why just like progressive businesses, SEPA is changing today.

Mr Downes added “in addition to being delighted to be reappointed at Chair, SEPA is looking forward to being joined by four new board members who are both passionate about the potential of our strategy and represent the diversity of the communities we serve.  The right candidates will be agents of positive change who can also face the challenges of working in and influencing a forward-thinking, progressive organisation as we work to achieve more for Scotland.”

Scotland’s principal environmental regulator and national authority for flood forecasting and warning, SEPA’s four new board members will join the agency in January 2020.

Candidates from diverse backgrounds with varying experiences and skills are being invited to apply for the four board appointments, which have become available as four existing candidates come to the end of their time as members.

SEPA currently has 10 Board members, who come from a variety of private, provate and voluntary sector backgrounds as well as NGOs and bring with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise, as well as passion for environmental issues.

“Applicants don’t have to be an expert on the environment or science to join the SEPA Board,” Downes says. “Experience in finance, marketing, business or community leadership or working in non-profit are all skills that could support your role as Board member.”

SEPA’s board is responsible for the organisation’s overall direction and performance, including its efficiency and effectiveness as a public body. It also enables the agency to deliver its statutory purpose of delivering environmental protection and improvement, while contributing to health and well-being benefits, and sustainable economic growth.

SEPA’s One Planet Prosperity strategy involves working with businesses to help them meet – and go beyond – environmental compliance, for example by reducing their use of water, carbon-based energy and raw materials and by cutting or designing-out waste.

Appointments to SEPA’s Board are made by Scottish Ministers and are regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland. Appointments are normally for a four-year term with the possibility of a further term, subject to evidence of effective performance and satisfying the skills, knowledge and personal qualities required on the Board at the time of re-appointment.

The appointments are remunerated for a time commitment of a maximum of 30 days per year.

On the Chair’s reappointment, Ms. Cunningham said:

“In his role to date, Bob has supported an ambitious agenda for the development of SEPA and the implementation of a new approach to regulation.  I look forward to Bob continuing to play an important role in ensuring that the environment and human health are protected; and that Scotland’s natural resources are used as sustainably as possible and contribute to inclusive, sustainable economic growth”

SEPA is headquartered in Stirling and employs around 1,300 staff at 24 offices across Scotland including Lerwick, Kirkwall, Fort William, Aberdeen, Perth, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dumfries, Ayr and Balloch.

Candidates are invited to find out more and apply at sepa.org.uk/boardrecruitment

The closing date for applications is 15th July 2019 at midnight.

Ends




SEPA’s new finfish aquaculture regulatory framework

date04 June 2019

A new firm, evidence-based regulatory framework has been introduced for Scotland’s finfish aquaculture sector by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), one of a number of organisations regulating the sector. The framework will further strengthen the protection of the marine environment for the people of Scotland.

  • New firm, evidence-based revised regulatory framework introduced for Scotland’s finfish aquaculture sector by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), one of a number of organisations regulating the sector.
  • Developed following twenty-two months of work by SEPA and implements proposals announced in November 2018 which were subject to Scotland-wide consultation.
  • The framework follows 2018 SEPA research into the impact of Scottish salmon farms, peer reviewed and published in international journal, Science of the Total Environment.

Launched on 1st June 2019, the revised regulatory framework follows twenty-two months of work by SEPA and implements proposals announced in November 2018 which were subject to Scotland-wide consultation.

The framework follows 2018 SEPA research into the impact of Scottish salmon farm medicine, peer reviewed and published in international journal, Science of the Total Environment.

The new framework, which will apply to all new Scottish finfish aquaculture applications, includes:

MORE POWERFUL MODELLING USING THE BEST AVAILABLE SCIENCE

The new regulatory framework will take advantage of more accurate computer modelling approaches that will improve our understanding of the risk to the local environment and allow assessment of the larger-scale impacts including interactions with other farms.  

The science about fish farming is very complex and the new approach will bring the aquaculture sector up to date with the modelling practices which are being used for other industrial sectors where there is a longer history of operation and analysis.

A NEW TIGHTER STANDARD FOR THE ORGANIC WASTE DEPOSITED BY FISH FARMS

Marine pen fish farming across Scotland operates using open-net pens.  Fish faeces; any uneaten food; used fish medicines and other chemical treatments escape from these pens into the marine environment.  The heavier, organic particles (the fish faeces and uneaten food) together with any medicines sticking to them are deposited on the sea floor.  Natural biological processes then break down and assimilate the material over time.

The tighter standard limits the spatial extent of the mixing zone around farms.   The controls applied to these mixing zones will bring them into equivalence with modern practice on mixing zones for other waste effluent discharges into the sea, including those from urban waste water.

NEW APPROACH TO SUSTAINABLE SITING OF FARMS

The combination of a new standard, a more accurate model and enhanced monitoring will allow the siting of farms in the most appropriate areas where the environment can assimilate wastes.  It allows SEPA to better match biomass to the capacity available in the environment and continue to assess that through the operation of the site.

The new framework encourages operators to site and operate fish farms in environmentally less sensitive waters and use improved practices and technologies, such as containment, to reduce environmental impacts. It may allow for the approval of larger farms than would have been traditionally approved previously, provided they are appropriately sited in sustainable locations.

SEPA has seen some industry operators successfully developing new approaches such as non-chemical ways of managing fish health. Our new framework supports these encouraging developments.

ENHANCED ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING

Operators are now required to invest in more accurate monitoring, including of waste coming from fish farms. Officers are already engaged in a programme of unannounced visits to confirm compliance with regulatory requirements. SEPA will also increase and strengthen monitoring of the impact of fish farms in surrounding areas.

INVOLVING COMMUNITIES AND STAKEHOLDERS

As one of a number of organisations regulating finfish aquaculture, SEPA believes its new firm, evidence based framework has the potential to significantly improve the environmental performance of the industry. Recognising the diverse range of views on finfish aquaculture, SEPA held a Scotland-wide consultation where 275 people attended nine community drop-in events and 28 one to one meetings were facilitated between SEPA specialists and stakeholder groups. SEPA continues to work with all stakeholders as it implements the new framework and will establish a new National Aquaculture Stakeholder Advisory Panel.  

SEPA is considering whether moving to using a feed limit or retaining a biomass limit in the permit is the most effective parameter to use to regulate the scale of impact from fish farms. Over the next three months, SEPA will consult with all interested stakeholders on these options before a final decision is made.  In the interim, organic waste releases will continue to be limited using fish biomass.

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

“As one of a number of organisations regulating finfish aquaculture, SEPA is clear that our job is to make sure environmental standards protect the marine environment for the people of Scotland and we make sure the industry meets those standards. 

“Implementing our new firm, evidence-based revised regulatory framework, which follows over twenty-two months of work, more science and more listening to stakeholders than ever before, is an important milestone.  It makes powerfully clear our aspirations and requirement that the industry reach and maintain full compliance with Scotland’s environmental protection laws, where SEPA will help those investing in innovation and moving beyond compliance. 

“It makes clear too our own commitment to more stringent science, modelling, monitoring, and unannounced inspections and to continuing to listen to communities, NGOs and industry through SEPA’s new National Aquaculture Stakeholder Advisory Panel.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SEPA’S AQUACULTURE HUB




More of Scotland’s bathing waters rated as ‘excellent’ as the 2019 season begins

date31 May 2019

With hundreds of thousands of Scottish families and visitors expected to head to Scotland’s beaches for the bathing season (1 June – 15 September), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has revealed that more of the country’s 86 designated bathing waters are meeting the ‘excellent’ classification rating (32%).

  • More bathing waters (32%) have been rated as ‘excellent’ than since the tighter standards first came into force in 2015.
  • Fewer bathing waters have also been rated as ‘poor’ – and partnership projects are currently underway to maintain progress and further improve bathing waters including the 10 rated as ‘poor.’
  • Overall 88% of Scotland’s designated bathing waters have met the strict environmental water quality standards for 2019.  
  • Water quality information is available by 10.00 am every day during the season for 31 bathing water locations at sepa.org.uk/bathingwaters, via Beachline and live electronic beach signage.

Rating

Number of bathing waters

Percentage

Excellent

28

32

Good

35

41

Sufficient

13

15  

Poor

10

12

OVERALL

86

100%

 

 

 

SEPA has also revealed that 88% of Scotland’s bathing waters have met the strict environmental water quality standards overall and that fewer bathing waters have been rated as ‘poor’ since the tighter standards first came into force in 2015.

In the Highlands and Islands improvements have been seen with Dores moving up to ‘excellent’ and Nairn (Central) and Thurso both moving up to a ‘good’ rating. In North-East Scotland Lunan Bay and Peterhead (Lido) have both improved to ‘excellent’, with Aberdeen moving up to ‘good’. In South-East Scotland Dunbar (East) and Thorntonloch have both improved to ‘excellent’ with Yellow Craig and Seton Sands both improving to ‘good’. This year Portobello (West) in the outskirts of Edinburgh and Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire have both passed for the first time with Portobello (West) achieving the ‘sufficient’ classification and SEPA rating Cruden Bay as ‘good’.

Ranked as the most beautiful country in the world by Rough Guide, Scotland’s natural environment is world-renowned. Its beaches range from remote, unspoilt Hebridean sands to golden stretches along northern and eastern coves and popular Western shores.

This season beach users will have access to real time water quality forecasts, and live information on any pollution incidents, thanks to SEPA scientists who sample the water and combine with state-of-the-art weather data to provide daily bathing water forecasts throughout the three and a half months of the bathing season. These are available at 31 bathing water locations by 10am every morning through:

  • sepa.org.uk/bathingwaters – SEPA’s website
  • 08452 30 30 98 – SEPA’s Beachline
  • Live electronic signs at 31 designated beach locations

Calum McPhail, SEPA Environmental Quality manager, said:

“Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s stunning environment. It is great news that more bathing waters have met the ‘excellent’ standard than since the new tighter standards first came into force in 2015 and we are also pleased to reveal that fewer bathing waters are rated as ‘poor’.

“Each bathing water is different with a unique set of potential water quality challenges. Working with partners we’re continuing our focus on bathing waters rated as ‘poor’ with tailored improvement plans, prepared by SEPA, well underway. Last summer we reported that, having been a priority project, both Nairn sites had passed for the first time. This season we see that in addition to Nairn (East) continuing to meet last year’s standard, Nairn (Central) has improved even further to a ‘good’ rating – and Portobello (West) and Cruden Bay have both passed for the first time.

“We are committed to providing real time information on bathing water quality to ensure those heading to Scotland’s beaches can have a great day, and through partnership working we hope to see further improvements in bathing water quality in the coming months and years.”

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“I am pleased to see so many of our designated bathing waters meeting the strict environmental water quality standards, and that a growing number are achieving the top rating. While a trip to the beach may always be dependent on our unique Scottish summer, beachgoers can have confidence that our bathing waters are being constantly monitored and their quality ensured.    

“Scotland’s shorelines and waters are among the most beautiful in the world and significant progress has been made, in the space of just a few years, to improve standards still further. In cases where a lower rating has been achieved – often due to individual circumstances – SEPA and its partners are working through a comprehensive course of action to drive improvement.”

A Scottish Water spokeswoman said:

“We welcome the continued improvement in bathing water performance. Scottish Water has undertaken significant investment in partnership with SEPA in recent years to support bathing water quality.

“We will continue to work with partner organisations to improve bathing water quality where required. People can help look after our waters by remembering not to put the wrong items down toilets and sinks as these can block drains and sewers and cause pollution on beaches.”

Ends

2019 results in full

Highland and Islands

(9 excellent, 5 good, 2 sufficient, 0 poor)

Achmelvich        

Excellent

Dores   

Excellent

Dornoch                

Excellent

Dunnet

Excellent

Ettrick   Bay          

Good

Findhorn               

Good

Gairloch Beach 

Excellent

Ganavan               

Excellent

Loch Morlich     

Excellent

Lossiemouth (East)

Sufficient

Machrihanish    

Excellent

Nairn (Central) 

Good

Nairn (East)       

Sufficient

Rosemarkie       

Good

Sand Beach        

Excellent

Thurso 

Good

 

 

Lothian, mid Scotland and Fife

(7 excellent, 6 good, 2 sufficient, 2 poor)

Aberdour (Silversands) 

Excellent

Aberdour Harbour (Black Sands)

Good

Anstruther (Billow   Ness)                

Excellent

Burntisland        

Good

Crail (Roome   Bay)           

Excellent

Elie (Harbour) and Earlsferry

Excellent

Elie (Ruby Bay)

Excellent

Fisherrow   Sands                

Poor

Kinghorn (Harbour Beach)

Poor

Kinghorn (Pettycur)       

Good

Kingsbarns         

Excellent

Kirkcaldy (Seafield)

Good

Leven   

Good

Portobello (Central)       

Sufficient

Portobello   (West)           

Sufficient

St Andrews (East Sands)

Good

St Andrews (West Sands)

Excellent

 

 

North East Scotland

(6 excellent, 8 good, 3 sufficient, 0 poor)

Aberdeen          

Good

Arbroath (West Links)   

Good

Balmedie              

Excellent

Broughty Ferry 

Excellent

Carnoustie         

Good

Collieston             

Good

Cruden Bay        

Good (SEPA-rating)

Cullen Bay            

Sufficient

Fraserburgh (Philorth)  

Excellent

Fraserburgh (Tiger Hill)  

Sufficient

Inverboyndie    

Sufficient

Lunan Bay          

Excellent

Monifieth             

Good

Montrose             

Excellent

Peterhead   (Lido)               

Excellent

Rosehearty        

Good

Stonehaven      

Good

 

 

Solway

(0 excellent, 3 good, 0 sufficient, 4 poor)

Brighouse Bay

Poor

Carrick

Good

Dhoon Bay

Poor

Mossyard

Good

Rockcliffe

Poor

Sandyhills

Poor

Southerness

Good

 

 

South East Scotland

(5 excellent, 9 good, 0 sufficient, 1 poor)

Broad Sands      

Good

Coldingham       

Good

Dunbar   (Belhaven)         

Good

Dunbar (East)   

Excellent

Yellow Craig       

Good

Eyemouth          

Poor

Gullane

Excellent

Longniddry        

Good

North Berwick (Milsey   Bay)         

Good

North Berwick (West)   

Good

Pease   Bay           

Excellent

Seacliff

Excellent

Seton Sands      

Good

Thorntonloch    

Excellent

Whitesands       

Good

 

 

West Scotland

(1 excellent, 4 good, 6 sufficient, 3 poor)

Ayr (South   Beach)           

Poor

Culzean

Sufficient

Girvan

Sufficient

Heads of Ayr

Poor

Irvine   

Poor

Largs (Pencil Beach)       

Good

Lunderston Bay

Good

Luss   Bay                

Sufficient

Maidens

Sufficient

Millport Bay      

Excellent

Prestwick

Good

Saltcoats/Ardrossan      

Sufficient

Seamill 

Good

Troon (South Beach)

Sufficient

The Bathing Water Directive

Under the Bathing Water Directive:

  • classifications are calculated at the end of the 2018 season for display on all beaches at the start of the 2019 season;
  • water quality classification applies for the whole season;
  • the overall condition of a location is described through bathing water profiles.

Wet weather problems

  • Diffuse pollution is the largest pollution pressure on the water environment in Scotland, but it can be difficult to identify and control. The risk of diffuse pollution is worse during rainfall because nutrients, soil, chemicals and faecal bacteria can be washed from land into the surrounding water environment. Single discharge points might not seem to be an issue, but several combined across a whole river catchment can significantly affect water quality, including in EU designated bathing waters. Land and run-off management practices play a pivotal role in diffuse pollution mitigation.
  • Another source of pollution at beaches can be combined sewer overflows (CSOs). During heavy rainfall CSOs, which discharge diluted but minimally treated sewage to watercourses and coastal waters, are essential to prevent flooding. However, during extended periods of rain, which are not uncommon in Scotland, the combined effect of CSOs in a catchment can have a negative impact on the water quality. To minimise the impact of combined sewer overflows on water quality, SEPA imposes conditions requiring sewage litter and debris removal and on the location and frequency of their operation. SEPA continues to work closely with the Scottish Government, Scottish Water and the Water Industry to ensure that planned capital investment programmes aimed at upgrading sewerage infrastructure throughout the country are prioritised to maximise environmental benefits.   

ENDS




North East schools and environmental groups gather to become more sustainable

date31 May 2019

International School Aberdeen (ISA) hosted this year’s United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Conference on Thursday 30th May.

ISA opened its doors to children from twelve schools from across Aberdeen City and Shire and provided an opportunity to build relationships and learn how to address and work towards reaching the United Nations (UN) sustainability development goals locally and globally.

In its third year, the collaborative event brought together eco minded students as well as environmental organisations from the North East to share ideas and showcase how they are working towards supporting the 2030 agenda for the UN’s on-going ocean science for sustainable development plans.

Held in the impressive ISA Queen Elizabeth Theatre, pupils heard from the keynote speaker, Professor Colin Moffat, Senior Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government for Marine who talked around keeping a clean, healthy and resilient ocean. Professor Moffat kicked off the event and commented: “Children are the leaders and scientists of our future; therefore, it is important to reinforce global sustainability challenges including climate change, biodiversity and contaminants which affect all our lives. Events like this bring communities together and hopefully we see some rising ambassadors who can make a difference to support sustainability in our seas and oceans as we push hard to improve our eco-systems”. 

The conference attracted pupils from schools including Banchory Academy, Bridge of Don Academy, Bucksburn Academy, Kemnay Academy, Fernielea Primary, Kittybrewster Primary, Muirfield Primary, St Joseph’s Primary, St Margaret’s School for Girls and the Robert Gordon’s College and The Gordon Schools. Throughout the day, each school presented their goals and highlighted how they planned to tackle sustainable issues. 

Primary 6 pupils from Fernielea Primary School also performed two songs at the conference after taking part in an innovative project, developed in partnership by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scotland’s culture and sustainability charity Creative Carbon Scotland, to explore how creative approaches can help raise levels of flood awareness.

ISA’s eco club led the event’s workshops and various representatives from North East environmental and sustainability groups were on hand to discuss how the pupils can be more environmentally conscious at home and in the classroom. In the ISA Street, lots of engagement was seen through a variety of displays, along with projects being showcased from the Miniature Earth Learning Project as well as Aberdeen Climate Action, Aberdeen for A Fairer World Fairtrade, Grampian Regional Equality Council, Marigold & Mo, One Seed Forward, Quids In Theatre Company, Recycle for Aberdeen, Repair Café, CFINE, Sustain Energy and Vegan Outreach Scotland.

Closing the event, ISA Head of School, Nicholas Little said, “It was brilliant to see pupils from across the North East enthusiastically sharing their ideas on Sustainable Development goals and learning from each other on issues that affects us all.   The UN has opened our eyes to see the problems that our oceans and its inhabitants tackle every day and it is encouraging to see children who are keen to become more sustainable. I have no doubt that if our communities become more environmentally sustainable at a local level it would have a positive impact on our climate internationally”.

Dr David Pirie, SEPA Executive Director, said: “The scale of environmental challenges facing humanity is enormous and there is a real urgency to act. Every day SEPA works to help Scotland prepare more powerfully for future increased flooding in the face of clear science on climate change. Getting the next generation involved in understanding how flooding happens is a vital part of how we do that, helping local communities become more resilient. We hope that the children will continue to spread the word to their friends and families on how they can be flood-prepared in a changing climate.”

Ends




BBC Panorama response

date20 May 2019

On 20th May 2019, BBC One’s flagship investigations documentary ‘Panorama’ will focus on the Scottish salmon industry. The Panorama programme, entitled ‘Salmon Farming Exposed’, will examine the environmental performance and practices of the industry. It also looks at the regulatory oversight of the industry, including SEPA’s role.

In November 2018, SEPA, as one of a number of organisations regulating finfish aquaculture, announced firm, evidence-based proposals for a revised regulatory regime that will strengthen the protection of the marine environment for the people of Scotland. The regime will be introduced next month.

The new regime follows twenty-two months of work by colleagues across the agency, a 2017 consultation, and two Scottish Parliamentary committees, one of which concluded that “the status quo is not an option”, adding that the industry’s expansion goal “will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment” unless governance and practices are improved markedly.

Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said: “Whilst a high quality environment and abundant freshwater resources are vital to Scotland’s aquaculture sector, it’s an industry that attracts polarised positions, from those who cite its economic contribution to those who oppose its existence. 

“As one of a number of organisations regulating finfish aquaculture, SEPA is clear that our job is to make sure environmental standards protect the marine environment for the people of Scotland and we make sure the industry meets those.  That’s unequivocally our focus.

“Consequently across the last twenty-two months we’ve done more science, more analysis and more listening than ever before.   We announced enhanced environmental monitoring and the creation of new SEPA enforcement unit to ensure compliance is non-negotiable.  Officers are currently engaged in a programme of unannounced visits to confirm compliance with regulatory requirements.

“As an organisation based on law and evidence, SEPA routinely reviews data from operators, from SEPA monitoring and from third parties.  Whilst it would be inappropriate to pre-judge potential outcomes, SEPA will fully investigate suggestions of alleged industry wrongdoing made by BBC Panorama.

SEPA is unable to comment further on its current audit and unannounced inspection programme underway at present.”

Find out more: