Operator self-monitoring

One of the key actions from our One Planet Prosperity - Our Regulatory Strategy is the implementation of the Regulatory Evidence Strategy (RES), which provides a framework for our approach to collecting information about the activities we regulate.

Part of this approach is to increase the proportion of routine evidence collected by operators at their own sites. Under self-monitoring arrangements, operators performing authorised activities will have an obligation to monitor and report to SEPA in support of the regulation of those activities. We will continue to determine compliance from the evidence submitted to us. Operator self-monitoring is a very useful and important tool that will allow us to re-allocate some of our existing monitoring resource to focus on the activities that are causing or are likely to cause the greatest environmental harm.

In order to maintain confidence in our regulatory decision making, we are developing a number of measures to ensure that self-monitoring data meets our quality requirements. The first is our quality assurance certification scheme, Measurement Assurance and Certification Scotland (MACS).

Measurement Assurance and Certification Scotland (MACS)

MACS provides a robust quality assurance framework to ensure that self-monitoring data is fit for regulatory assessment and does not downgrade SEPA’s existing long-term data assets. Its remit extends across the entire monitoring process: from planning and scheduling to sampling, analysis and data reporting. MACS is founded on ISO 17025, the most widely recognised and commonly adopted international quality standard for laboratories performing environmental analysis.

Operator conformance with the requirements of MACS is audited by an external accrediting body [United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)], with an initial assessment audit performed upon application to the scheme. Subsequent surveillance audits are incorporated alongside the operator’s annual ISO 17025 audit, with agreement in place with UKAS to allow all audit outcomes to be shared with SEPA.

There are four types of document currently associated with MACS:

  • Performance standard – a document that sets out the requirements that MACS participants must abide by when producing data under self-monitoring arrangements.
  • Addendum – a temporary document detailing an amendment to an existing MACS performance standard.
  • Technical guide – a document produced by SEPA to support MACS participants, and provide additional information not detailed in performance standards.
  • Form – a document for completion by a MACS participant, which is submitted to SEPA to support a process detailed in a performance standard and/or a technical guide.
  • Operator specific criteria – a document for use in conjunction with the MACS performance standards, containing specific requirements which are relevant only to individual operators.

Current versions of all available MACS documentation can be found below:

Performance standards and addendums Technical guides Forms Operator specific criteria
Sampling and chemical testing of water Updating MACS documentation Operator document change request form Scottish Water
Sampling and chemical testing of water: Addendum A Guidance on sub-contracting analysis Operator sub-contracting request form  
Sample and data management Dealing with non-conformance Operator concession request form  
Sample and data management: Addendum A      

Contact us

If you have any questions, or require any further information or advice on any aspect of operator self-monitoring or MACS, please email us.