We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about SEPA. However, if you still need help to answer a query, please contact us.

What does SEPA do?

SEPA protects and maintains a safe, healthy and sustainable environment for the people of Scotland, ensures that business and industry is aware of and complies with environmental regulation, and warns and informs the public in the event of environmental incidents.

As an influential and respected expert authority on the environment, our work also involves providing advice and guidance on environmental issues and leading and participating in local and national level scientific studies and research.


What is SEPA not responsible for?

Although SEPA is Scotland’s principal environmental regulator, there are issues which fall outside of our areas of responsibility which are looked after by other agencies and organisations.

As other agencies and organisations may be able to help you address a particular issue more effectively than SEPA, it is best to contact them directly.

We have compiled a guide to help you decide who best to contact based on your particular issue, but please contact us if you need more help.


What is the difference between SEPA and the Environment Agency?

SEPA covers Scotland and the Environment Agency (EA) covers England and differs in function:

  • The EA is responsible for flood warning and defence, whereas SEPA is responsible only for flood warning (the local authorities are responsible for flood defence)
  • SEPA is responsible for local air pollution control, whereas this is a local authority function in England and Wales
  • The EA can bring its own prosecutions and claim legal expenses in successful cases, whereas SEPA must submit cases through the Procurator Fiscal and cannot claim expenses

How do I report pollution?

Call our free, 24-hour pollution hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or contact us.

What is Floodline?

Floodline, in Scotland, is operated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). It provides live flooding information and advice on how to prepare for or cope with the impacts of flooding 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our telephone service and website can be accessed by everyone but by registering with us you can receive free flood messages for your area of interest direct to your phone.

When you are signed up to Floodline and flooding is forecast in your area, we will send you a message by phone or text, advising that a Flood Warning or Flood Alert has been issued and where to go to find out more about the flooding situation.

Receiving advance notice of flooding means that you have time to prepare and reduce the impact of flooding on your life and your property.

You can sign up online or by phoning 0345 988 1188

How do I find out about flooding?

SEPA is Scotland’s national flood forecasting, flood warning and strategic flood risk management authority.

Our flooding section has more information about our flooding role and the work we are resposinble for and contribute to. You can also to sign up to Floodline and view Alerts and Warnings currently in force.

Visit our Flooding FAQs if you have more general questions about flooding.

How can I find out more about any licences or permits I may need for my project or business?

Please visit our regulation section where you’ll find all the information you need about how to proceed.

How can I find out more about planning regulations?

SEPA is not a planning authority, however we do offer advice and guidance to planning authorities, and we are a statutory consultee for certain types of developments.

Our planning pages provide more information on our involvement in the planning process.

How can I find out more about environmental regulations and legislation?

For Scottish regulations, visit NetRegs. For UK regulations visit the Office of Public Sector Information or, for European legislation, visit Europa.

How can I find out more about how environmental regulations and legislation affect my business?

Our regulations section contains advice on how environmental regulations and legislation affect business and industry and gives further detailed information on licensing, permits and compliance.

Where is my nearest office?

Visit our interactive office locator map or contact us for details of our offices.

How do I access SEPA information?

Our Access to Information section contains details of information on SEPA and explains how to access any further requirements.

How can I access SEPA publications?

You can download copies of nearly all our publications from this site by visiting our library.

How do I get a job with SEPA?

Visit our Jobs section to see currently available vacancies with SEPA.