Delivering One Planet Prosperity

SEPA has a strong track record of improving Scotland’s environment through regulation, and we are proud of what we have achieved since we were established in 1996. 

However, more than 20 years on, the world is now a different place, and the way in which we have regulated in the past is not sufficient to enable us to make the transformational changes needed to tackle the environmental problems of today.

We recognise that as a society, we are over-using our planet’s resources. If everyone lived as we do in Scotland, we would need three planets to sustain ourselves. As we progress through the 21st century and beyond, only those businesses, societies and nations that have developed ways to reduce their water, materials and carbon-based energy consumption, as well as creating little waste, will thrive.

Everyday SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland's environment, helping communities and businesses thrive within the resources of our planet. We call this One Planet Prosperity.

You can read about the following on this page:


The Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act,passed by the Scottish Parliament in January 2014, gave SEPA its statutory purpose, to protect and improve the environment (environmental success) in ways that, as far as possible, create health and well-being benefits (social success) and sustainable economic growth (economic success).

One Planet Prosperity - Our Regulatory Strategy

One Planet Prosperity is our strategy for tackling the challenges of the 21st century facing Scotland's environment. It outlines our approach to delivering environmental protection and improvement in ways which will also create health benefits and sustainable economic growth.

We have a specific role to play to deliver full compliance and help as many business as possible to innovate and go beyond compliance. The strategy sets out how we will regulate for maximum benefit, using an integrated framework and other tools.

Sectoral approach to regulation

We are transforming the way we regulate, moving from a single site approach to sector based solutions. Sector plans are at the heart of delivering our one planet living aspirations, and aim to shape our interactions with every industry sector we regulate and the businesses within them.

For every sector we regulate, we will have two simple aims. These are to ensure that:

  • every regulated business fully meets their compliance obligations;
  • as many regulated businesses as possible will go beyond the compliance standards.

Our approach is ambitious. It spells out how we will use traditional regulatory tools, such as permits and enforcement, in clearer and more powerful ways, and also sets out some completely new ways, such as novel partnerships that we will develop and use to support innovation in the sectors.

Sector plans will identify the compliance issues that need to be tackled by the sector and where the biggest opportunities are for us to help the sector to go beyond compliance. This will help regulated businesses operate successfully within the means of one planet. 

We are preparing sector plans for every sector that we regulate. Our published plans are available from a dedicated online hub and plans open for consultation can be found on our Consultation Hub.

Sustainable Growth Agreements

Sustainable Growth Agreements (SGAs) are voluntary formal agreements between SEPA and an organisation (or organisations) that focus on practical action to deliver environmental outcomes and help achieve One Planet Prosperity. Most SGAs will be signed with individual businesses, but some will also be with groups of businesses, trade bodies, local authorities, Non-Governmental Organisations and others. Through an SGA, SEPA can help organisations collaborate with experts, innovators and stakeholders on different approaches that could improve environmental performance and also help create commercial and social success. An SGA in no way adversely affects or prejudices our ability to act in our capacity as a regulator.

Our SGAs are with:

 Guiding Principles for entering into a SGA with SEPA are also available.

Climate Change Commitment Statement

The scale of environmental challenge facing humanity is enormous, with a real urgency to act and climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face. In Scotland we already have some of the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets in the world. SEPA wants to play as powerful a role as possible to help Scotland deliver this world leading climate change action and stretch this ambition further so that we make the biggest difference possible to Scottish efforts on climate change and achieving One Planet Prosperity. Our Climate Change Commitment Statement sets out this ambition and the targets we are setting ourselves.

Integrated Authorisation Framework (IAF)

The framework aims to integrate, as far as possible, the authorisation, procedural and enforcement arrangements relating to water, waste management, radioactive substances and pollution prevention and control, and will enable us to work in a more integrated way focusing on the environmental risks that matter the most. It will be delivered through the Environmental Authorisation (Scotland) Regulations 2018. It will help us to bring all those that we regulate into compliance quickly, easily and cost effectively and also enable us to help as many businesses as possible to go beyond compliance.

Reform of charging

In 2017, we undertook a public consultation on proposed changes to the Environmental Regulation (Scotland) Charging Scheme, as well as holding a number of stakeholder meetings to discuss proposals and gain feedback.

As a result of the feedback received, we intend to implement changes to the scheme on 1 April 2018. More information can be found on the charging scheme pages of the website.

Consultation documents are still available to view on our Consultation Hub, however the opportunity to respond has now ended.

Environmental enforcement framework

The Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 (RR(S) Act) enabled Scottish Ministers to give SEPA the power to impose fixed and variable monetary penalties and to accept enforcement undertakings (the new enforcement measures).

The overall aim of the new enforcement measures is to deter and discourage offending by punishing those who damage the environment and undermine legitimate businesses in Scotland. Being able to tackle non-compliance at an earlier stage - before it becomes entrenched –is viewed as a major benefit.

The new enforcement measures now available to us, include:

  • Fixed Monetary Penalties – there are currently four specific areas where these penalties are being considered as an enforcement option:
  • Diffuse pollution priority catchments
  • Landfill data returns
  • Waste segregation
  • Waste carrier

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

  • Enforcement Undertakings – we can receive offers of such undertakings. These go beyond simply preventing / restoring harms arising from a breach of environmental legislation, to more longer term gains through more sustainable operating practices and by bringing about benefits to communities. (related item to AWPR)
  • Variable Monetary Penalties (VMPs) - VMP’s will be phased during 2018.
  • VMP Undertakings – this measure will be introduced when the VMPs are available.

Waste to Resources Framework

Our Waste to Resources Framework recognises waste and resource management as a cross-sectoral issue and, for the first time, brings together all the work we do in this area into one place – from supporting waste prevention through to tackling waste crime.

We are willing and able to support innovation which drives efficiency in material use, reduces waste or makes high quality use of waste. We will always facilitate the productive use of waste while ensuring the environment is protected.

Basic compliance with waste regulation and the eradication of waste crime are fundamental to protecting communities from harm and achieving the resilient, resource efficient society we all want.

We will use all our influences to cut waste production, keep materials circulating for as long as possible, prevent the harms from waste management and tackle waste crime. These guiding principles, as set out in the Waste to Resources Framework, provide the direction for our work.

Contact us

If you have any questions or require further information or advice regarding any aspect of One Planet Prosperity – Regulatory Strategy, please contact us.