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Scotland looks to revamp waste laws

The Scottish Government has proposed a simplification of its environmental regulations and a restructuring of the regulatory authority.

Under the plans, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa)’s four main regulatory departments – water, waste, radioactive substances and pollution prevention – would be merged into a single structure.

A consultation document on the proposed changes, co-written by Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham, is seeking responses by 12 April.

The review document says the current legislative landscape in Scotland, including waste regulation, is “unnecessarily complicated”.

“The regulatory systems for the existing regimes that Sepa is responsible for have developed and evolved largely separately, and adopt different approaches to achieve similar outcomes.

“The waste regime has evolved over decades and relies on at least eight pieces of legislation.

“The Scottish Government and Sepa propose to simplify, streamline and integrate, as far as possible, the existing environmental authorisation regimes into an integrated authorisation framework.”

A new power Sepa expects to gain from such integration is the discretion to revoke a person’s authorisation if they have ceased to be a fit and proper person, have stopped being in control of the regulated activity or have repeatedly failed to secure compliance.

Other benefits listed in the document are improved flexibility for the regulator to undertake enforcement as well as:

  • Ensuring that most regulated activities have a named authorised person, increasing accountability and ensuring that corporate responsibility is taken for compliance and the prevention of harm
  • Making it quicker, easier and more cost-effective to comply with environmental legislation
  • Supporting innovation so that businesses can realise the financial and reputational benefits of going beyond compliance

It expects those currently regulated under more than one regime to see the biggest benefits from integrating regulatory requirements. while those currently regulated only under the older waste or radioactive substances regimes will also benefit, it says, from the simplification and modernisation of these regimes.

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