The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 give you the right of access to our information.
A sophisticated criminal cyber-attack has had a major impact on the way SEPA works. We are working through all the services that we provide to understand what we need to do in the short and longer term to restore services. We are approaching this work with a sense of urgency.
Service status update: Access to information enquiries
What are we able to do?
The continued disruption due to the cyber-attack and continued office restrictions due to COVID-19, have significantly affected SEPA’s ability to respond to Access to Information enquiries.
Much of our information impacted by the cyber attack remains offline and we continue to be unable to provide copies of our hard copy information.
We will provide advice and assistance to you as best we are able but may not be able to provide the information you are looking for at this time.
We continue to keep the Scottish Information Commissioner updated about our service status. In relation to systemic issues arising out of the 24 December 2020 cyber-attack, the Commissioner is working with us to assist in rebuilding our Access to Information capacity, by way of a Level 2 Intervention under his Intervention Procedures.
What should you do now?
Check the SEPA website, our environmental data web page and our Disclosure Log for information we’ve already published that may be of interest. You can search our Disclosure Log by entering a key search word in the Title box and clicking on the filter icon .
You can also check Scotland’s Environment website. This website brings together environmental information and data in one place so that is easy to search, discover, analyse and interpret.
Scotland's Environment, Scotland's Soils, Scotland's Aquaculture and Scotland's Noise websites have not been compromised by the cyber-attack and continue to function. Contact details have been updated to reflect the fact that SEPA email and phone contacts may not be back to normal service - please check relevant site.
Continue to check our service status, which will be updated weekly.
Access to Information
We are also required to produce and maintain a publication scheme, making as much information available as possible.
- Making a request for information
- Making a request for personal data
- SEPA's Disclosure Log
- Reviews and appeals
We have adopted the Model Publication Scheme, produced by the Scottish Information Commissioner.
You can view the model scheme on the website of the Scottish Information Commissioner.
Please note that it is not always necessary to make a formal request to access our information, much of which can be found on our website. A range of environmental and hydrometric datasets can be accessed via our Environmental Data webpage. Public Register information is available online. We also provide information and environmental data for diligence requests.
However, if you are unable to find what you need in these ways, you can request any information, regardless of who you are, where you live or what you want the information for.
To submit a request for information, you can use our online form to contact us.
We must respond to your request within 20 working days.
However, if your request concerns environmental information, we are, in exceptional circumstances, allowed to take up to 40 working days to respond.
You should be as specific as possible about the information you want, although you do not need to tell us why you want it.
Once your enquiry has been received, we will send you written acknowledgement and a unique reference number, which should be quoted in any correspondence relating to your request.
Most enquiries are free of charge. However, if your request takes more than seven hours to complete, the following charges apply:
- £25 an hour of staff time for environmental information
- £15 an hour of staff time for non-environmental information, with charges applicable up to 10 per cent of the total cost
If we need to make a charge, we will contact you before work on your request commences and advise you of this. Please see our Guide to information for further details.
There are a number of ways to request information from SEPA – please contact us for more information.
You have a right to see information about yourself by submitting a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act 2018.
If you wish to make a Subject Access Request, please complete the subject access request form which should contain sufficient information to allow reasonable identification of the data required. You will also need to send a copy of photographic identification.
Our responses to requests for information handled under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 are held within a repository [which can be accessed free of charge at any time].
The repository is updated regularly to ensure that information is widely available as soon as possible after its release.
However, please note that information may not always be added to the repository on the same day that it is supplied to an applicant if the quantity and format of the released information is substantial.
Some information may have been blanked out from the information available on the repository, where we have had to apply Data Protection principles.
Every request for information, under either the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 or the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, is formally logged as follows:
- Stage 1 – Request for information
- Stage 2 – Formal Review
- Stage 3 – Appeal for decision by the Scottish Information Commissioner (OSIC)
Once your request has been received, you will receive a response to your enquiry along with the requested information and/or an explanation regarding any withheld information.
If you are not happy with the response (or have not had a response), you have the right to request a formal review from SEPA. Every internal formal review will be fair, reasonable, transparent and proportionate and will have clear terms of reference.
If you do not agree with the findings of our internal review, you can appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner, who is responsible for enforcing Scotland's freedom of information laws.