Skip to main content

Operator guidance

Reporting deadlines  

SPRI returns for the 2023 calendar year are due by 28 February 2024.

To streamline the return process, we will be dispatching the SPRI return forms at the beginning of January. Each site will receive an Excel form tailored to its requirements. These forms must be completed and returned via email to no later than 28 February 2024.

Please inform us promptly of any changes to your contact information to facilitate smooth communication during the return process.

If a return is not received by the due date, we will look for a suitable alternative and may contact you by phone or letter to request more information.

Operator guidance

Industrial sites listed in the Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory (SPRI) are required to report the total amounts of a substance that they emit to air or water during the period of a year. This amount is known as the 'annual mass emission'.

Who has to report?

Companies or organisations are served a legal notice known as a Regulation 63(2) Notice under the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) (PPC) Regulations during the year that they are required to report.

If you have received such a notice, it is a legal requirement for you to complete a SPRI return. If you were required to report in a previous year, it is likely that you will have to continue reporting annually. Even if you are not operating during the reporting year, if the process meets reporting criteria for the SPRI and you have received a formal PPC Regulation 63(2) notice, you are required to submit a return.

If you have not operated and have no emissions, then you should state this in your return. If your authorisation or permit has been revoked, then please state this within your return and, after checking, your company will be removed from the SPRI.

If your industrial operation has closed down during the reporting year, you are still required to report emissions from the site for the part of the year that the site operated, by 28 February of the following year. Our SPRI general operator guidance provides more help and advice on who has to report. There are also sector guidance notes available to give process specific advice:

The SPRI is constantly developing: in Scotland and across the UK, the reporting criteria is reviewed every three years. In addition, changes effected by the European Union (EU) to the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) may affect UK reporting criteria. See our indicative substance lists for emissions to air and water for more information.

What do I have to report?

The SPRI has a threshold value for each pollutant - substances considered to be environmentally significant and of interest to the public.

These thresholds are set at a UK level (reflecting EU levels) and are designed to capture 95% of the UK’s total emitted pollutants for the particular substance.

Annual mass emissions alone are not necessarily directly related to concentrations being emitted at any particular time and cannot be used to directly predict the resulting concentrations in the environment. Thresholds above which mass emissions of each substance must be reported are prescribed using knowledge of the pollutant (its toxicity, transport and persistence in the environment) to indicate what mass emission may give rise to 'significant' environmental concentrations.

Sites reporting to the SPRI all have total annual mass emissions above the reporting threshold for a particular substance, but this does not imply that these sites are in breach of their licenced emission concentration limits at any time during that year. High annual mass emissions are often due to the large size of the industrial process, where relatively low concentrations are released in very large flows of air or water.

When completing your return, you need to identify which of the SPRI pollutants you emit, all emissions sources and then which of these leave the site boundary and report the actual value of all substances identified on the SPRI schedule (a list of substances, thresholds and media receiving the pollutant). Consented substances must be reported – however, substances such as waste (which are not normally consented) may breach the threshold(s) and, as such, must also be reported.

For each pollutant, pollutant emissions from all processes should be summed and then reported against the appropriate media that it is released to. When entering emission values greater than zero (0), the threshold condition (Above/Below Reporting Threshold - ART/BRT) will be automatically calculated for you.

We request that you provide all emissions values regardless of the threshold as we believe it can be assessed in order for you to report. If you are unable to provide the emission value, please provide a qualification describing why this is the case.

If there were no emissions for a pollutant in the current year then input zero (0) and the threshold condition will be shown as NE (No Emissions).

If the emission is not applicable, that is it is not used or highly unlikely to be released from your installation, then leave the emission value blank and it will be shown as NA (Not Applicable) and it will be removed for future reporting. You must always report a method description you used to decide your emission value – our guidance on methods and methodologies has more information on this.

If all measurements for a pollutant are below the "Limit of Detection" you can report a zero emission. It is important to include the methodology used to determine the emission value even if the emission is zero. This shows you have considered all potential pollutant sources from your installation and helps us validate your SPRI return.

Accidental emissions, such as those caused by unplanned releases, should also be recorded and entered onto your SPRI annual return – there are separate parts to the form which allow you to add these unplanned events. Accidental releases should be added into the total emission figure for that substance before it is compared to the threshold value.

What happens next?

On receiving your return, we check the information for obvious errors and omissions from the data provided.

A return will be refused and returned to the operator if any mandatory information is missing or ambiguous.

Once you have submitted a return, it is locked. If you need to make any changes to your return after you have submitted it to us, please contact us as soon as possible to enable any editing. We are required to record any changes and the reason for the change, so please ensure that you can provide this information. Please note that you may be asked to justify your emission values during any routine site audits, so please keep any paperwork, measurements or calculations for up to five years.

Once collated, the data returned through SPRI is used as a free and easily accessible information source for the public to review the emissions in their local or national area.

It is also used in research and to fulfil European Union reporting requirements, such as the UK-PRTR and the Industrial Emissions Directive.