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What we don't do

There are a number of organisations that are responsible for protecting and improving Scotland’s environment and SEPA works in partnership with many of them to ensure that we take a joined-up approach to this work.

The different organisations all have different areas of responsibility so, to assist you, we have put together a basic guide to what each organisation does. This is not intended as a detailed breakdown of legal duties.

For more information, please contact the relevant organisation. If you want to know more about SEPA's role, contact your local office.

Responsibilities by organisation

Organisation Responsibilities

Your local authority

  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Air pollution from vehicles, households, and some small industries/businesses.
  • Aquaculture works licences (Orkney and Shetland only)
  • Checking private drinking water supplies
  • Cleaning up fly-tipping (in some cases)
  • Coastal protection
  • Contaminated land
    - identifying sites
    - arranging for sites to be cleaned up
  • Dog fouling and noise
  • Environmental health and food hygiene
  • Flooding
    • Build and maintain flood defences
    • Clear and repair watercourses
    • Responsible for the drainage of public highways and local roads
    • May provide property flood protection but have no responsibility to do so
    • Local Flood Risk Management Plans
  • Litter
  • Litter, public health and facilities at beaches
  • Nature conservation (through local biodiversity action plans) 
  • Pest control
  • Planning permission
  • Road obstructions
  • Smell from sewage treatment
  • Smoke and smell
  • Waste collection
  • Your area waste plan
Your local police
  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Road obstructions
Scottish Canals
  • Canals
Crown Estate Scotland
  • Development consent for fish farms (special arrangements exist in Orkney and Shetland)
Drinking Water Quality Regulator
  • Drinking water quality
Environment and Heritage Service
  • Environmental issues in Northern Ireland
Environment Agency
  • Environmental issues in England and Wales
Fish Health Inspectorate (part of Fisheries Research Service)
  • Fish health
Food Standards Scotland
  • Food Safety
Health and Safety Executive
  • Safety at nuclear installations
  • Safety at major accident hazard sites (jointly with SEPA)
Historic Environment Scotland
  • Built environment
Marine Coastguard Agency
  • Pollution from shipping and offshore installations
Natural Resources Wales
  •  Environmental issues in Wales
Scottish Government
  • Legislation and policy for the environment in Scotland
  • Navigational consent for fish farms
  • Genetically modified organisms
  • Environmental legislation and initiatives in areas including sustainable development and rural policy
  • Guiding delegated agencies in delivering objectives
  • Liaising with UK government and EC on wider environmental policies
Scottish Natural Heritage
Scottish Water
  • Quality and supply of public drinking water
  • Disposing of and treating sewage
  • Flooding from sewers
  • Emptying septic tanks (some private businesses also offer this service)
National Grid
  • Gas leaks
UK Government

 Responsibilities by topic

Responsibilities Organisations
Abandoned vehicles
Air pollution from vehicles, household areas (eg bonfires), small businesses and small industries


Beaches and bathing water
Built environment
Coastal pollution
Coastal protection
Conservation (including Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Areas of Conservation, etc)
Contaminated land
Dog fouling and noise
Drinking water
Environmental issues in Northern Ireland
Environmental issues in England and Wales
Environmental health and food hygeine
Food safety
 Gas leaks
Genetically modified organisms
Government policy and legislation affecting the environment (England and Wales)
Government policy and legislation affecting the environment (Scotland)
Harbour pollution
  • Your local harbour authority (SEPA works with harbour authorities to investigate pollution from onshore sources. SEPA also regulates many of the activities carried out within harbour areas.)
Light pollution
Litter (except when relating to fly-tipping)
National Parks
  • Your local authority(except for noise from sites, or parts of sites, that have a Part A Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permit from SEPA)
Offshore oil and gas industry (except radioactivity)
Ozone depleting substances
Pest control
Planning permission
Road obstructions
Safety at major industrial sites (COMAH - Control of Major Accident Hazards)
Septic tanks
  • Emptying: Scottish Water (some private businesses also offer this service)
Sewage - disposing of
Sewage treatment - regulating
Smoke and smell problems
Sustainable development

See separate listings above for:

  • Aquaculture
  • Beaches and bathing water
  • Canals
  • Coastal pollution
  • Drinking water
  • Flooding
  • Sewage
  • Shipping