Scottish waste water crackdown

SEPA to gain new enforcement powers

The new legislation will make it easier for SEPA to impose fines for effluent infringements

A lack of understanding about how best to dispose of trade effluent could leave Scottish businesses facing fines worth tens of thousands of pounds, thanks to new laws designed to give the Scottish environmental regulator more teeth.

The Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Bill proposes additional enforcement powers for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), to help deal with businesses that do not comply with legislation. These new powers would allow the regulator to issue fines of up to £40,000 to Scottish businesses.
Ian Hewson, head of water and waste water solutions at Business Stream, said Scottish businesses should be prepared for the new legislation as it could mark the beginning of a clamp down on offending businesses.
Ian said: “Many of the businesses we work with don’t know the full extent to which trade effluent regulations can impact upon them, and £40,000 is a lot of money to pay for a problem that is so easily managed.
Although no strict timescale for the Bill to pass into law has been set, Hewson said businesses in Scotland should review their CAR licences and internal processes now to avoid falling foul of possible fines.
Failure to comply can not only lead to severe fines, but can incur additional enforcement action including being forced to manually remove trade effluent. This can mean hiring plant machinery to take effluent offsite to be made safe.
Any trade effluent discharged into the water environment is closely monitored by SEPA under the Controlled Activity Regulations (CAR) with any regulatory breaches potentially leading to enforcement action. Currently the most serious offences can be reported to the Procurator Fiscal however, if passed, the Reform Bill would give SEPA the power to hand out on the spot fines to businesses that breach the regulations.
In England wholesalers are currently able to issue demands for up to £5,000 in the event of an offence being committed.
Ian said: “If the Bill passes SEPA could look to tighten up on trade effluent offences. If this happens I fear a lot of Scottish companies will end up being caught out. Until now SEPA has been required to go through the Procurator Fiscal to pursue significant environmental offences. However, the Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Bill will make it easier for SEPA to target serious transgressors directly with financial sanctions.”