Cyber-attack & data theft: Our response & service status

Enforcement policy and enforcement guidance

Photo:Chapter Header

Service status

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.

Enforcement policy and enforcement guidance

Our Enforcement Policy and Guidance were published in June 2016 and underpin our decision-making in relation to enforcement action.

The Lord Advocate’s guidance to SEPA also supports enforcement decision making. It sets out circumstances and criteria for using new enforcement measures and makes it clear when we should be consulting the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service so that prosecution can be considered.

Enforcement measures

New enforcement measures are now available to us:

  • Fixed Monetary Penalties – Fixed monetary penalties allow us to issue fines for non-compliance. They are normally appropriate where an offence involves no direct harm, with no lasting effects or impact on communities, and when little (if any) financial benefit arises from the offence. We will publish details of penalties on our website.
  • Enforcement Undertakings – we can receive offers of such undertakings now. Please read the relevant section of the guidance before submitting your offer (form also available in Word format). These should go beyond simply preventing / restoring harms arising from a breach of environmental legislation (e.g. by offering longer term gains through more sustainable operating practices and by bringing about benefits to communities).

  • Variable Monetary Penalties – Variable Monetary Penalties (VMPs) - VMPs are discretionary financial penalties which SEPA can impose for a relevant offence. SEPA previously consulted on how we intend to calculate the amount of a VMP in late 2016. The responses were addressed and published in a consultation analysis report in April 2017. We have listened to your comments and developed the process further. It is our statutory duty to re-consult to make you aware of changes to the process of calculating the VMP amount.

    A public consultation will be open for 8 weeks starting mid October 2020 and we would like to hear your views. We intend to implement VMPs in 2021.”



  • VMP Undertakings – this measure will be available on the when VMPs are introduced.

Civil Sanctions - Penalties

We publish penalties for the following climate change regimes on our website:

Published information on our enforcement actions

Fixed monetary penalties allow us to issue fines for non-compliance. We will publish details of penalties on our website.

We publish an Annual Enforcement Report every year.

We have committed to publishing a range of enforcement activities in our Policy for Communicating Penalties and Undertakings.