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.
- Check the service status
- Approach to Delivery of Services Until June 2021
- Information about the cyber-attack
Service status update 15 April 2021: Permitting
What are we able to do now?
- Please see below for the services we are now running in relation to:
- existing private sewage treatment systems (septic tanks);
- Complex Waste Management Exemptions;
- Applications under Environmental Authorisations (Scotland) Regulations (EASR) and the Radioactive Substances Act 1993;
- Waste Carrier Licences.
- We are working hard to re-establish the ability to receive, verify and determine applications for Waste Management Licences, Controlled Activities in the Water Environment, including registration of new private sewage systems, and PPC Part A & B. For now we remain unable to undertake this work.
What should you do now?
- Please do not submit any applications at this time and check regular updates.
- Contact us if you had submitted an application prior to 24 December 2020 and your authorisation is required urgently within the next three weeks.
Next update: 23 April 2021
Our position statement on finfish aquaculture can be found at regulatoryapproach.sepa.org.uk.
Aquaculture is the growing of finfish and shellfish. In Scotland, this primarily involves the farming of:
- salmon and sea trout held in sea pens;
- salmon and trout in freshwater pens and;
- shellfish (oysters and mussels) on rafts and lines in the sea.
As one of a number of organisations regulating finfish aquaculture, SEPA's job is to protect the marine environment for the people of Scotland. We do this by ensuring that the aquaculture industry meets environmental standards.
A high quality environment and abundant freshwater resources are vital to Scotland’s aquaculture sector. SEPA regulates discharges from finfish farms by issuing permits that limit the levels of pollutants that they discharge to the water environment. Where farms use fresh water SEPA issues permits to control the amount of water that can be abstracted. SEPA does not regulate shellfish growing.
Our powers to deliver these functions are defined under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (CAR).
Regulatory framework for marine pen fish farms
SEPA, as one of a number of organisations regulating finfish aquaculture, is implementing a revised regulatory framework that will strengthen the protection of the marine environment for the people of Scotland.
The new framework follows twenty-two months of work by colleagues across the agency, a 2017 consultation, and two Scottish Parliamentary committees, one of which concluded that “the status quo is not an option”, adding that the industry’s expansion goal “will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment” unless governance and practices are improved markedly.
In developing the new regulatory framework we have started with marine pen fish farms, which are the largest part of the sector.
Marine pen fish farming has grown and changed significantly since our existing regulatory framework was introduced:
- the average size of farms has increased
- there has been a shift away from very sheltered, non-dispersive locations, where farms were concentrated in the early stages of the sector’s development.
- our scientific understanding, including our ability to model the fate of discharges in the sea, has also substantially improved.
The way we regulate needs to reflect and respond to these changes. The new framework will strengthen and future-proof our ability to deliver world-leading protection of the marine environment.
Finfish aquaculture sector plan
SEPA is changing today, creating a world-class environment protection agency fit for the challenges of tomorrow. By moving away from the traditional site by site regulation to grounding our regulation and activities across whole sectors, we will shape our interactions with every sector and the businesses in them.
The finfish aquaculture sector plan was the focus of a Scotland-wide, seven week consultation in November 2018. This provided an invaluable opportunity to speak with local communities, discuss the key issues which matter most to them and hear directly from a diverse range of interests, including NGOs, marine and freshwater fishery groups and representatives of the industry. A summary from this consultation is available by clicking here.
The sector plan is ambitious in its aspirations for an industry where in the future:
- The Scottish finfish aquaculture sector recognises that protecting the environment is fundamental to its success and is foremost in all its plans and operations.
- The sector is a world-leading innovator of ways to minimise the environmental footprint of food production and supply.
- The sector has a strong and positive relationship with neighbouring users of the environment and the communities in which it operates. It is valued nationally for its contribution to achieving global food security.
A key focus of the sector plan is to ensure that all operators in the sector will reach and maintain full compliance with Scotland’s environmental protection laws, while working to help as many operators as possible to move beyond compliance.