Waste businesses in Scotland have made a marked improvement in their environmental performance in recent years but continue to be the worst-performing sector, according to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).
Although the agency’s annual report on compliance across the country shows a six-year high, with 91.7% of all sites recorded as ‘excellent’, ‘good’ or ‘broadly compliant’, Sepa says the waste sector “has long held an unenviable record of falling foul” of the regulations.
Even so, Sepa says the sector’s overall compliance rose to 90.35% in 2016 from 72.48% in 2009.
In 2016-17, it still recorded the highest number of cases referred to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (42%), final warning letters (46%) and statutory notices served (48%), as well as the most convictions (38%) secured in 2016-17.
Examples in the report include the clearing of 1,500 tonnes of illegally deposited waste and chemicals from a site in Newton Mearns, and revocation of the licence of GBS Recycling in Coatbridge for stockpiling waste on-site beyond the time limits allowed. The site was rated ‘very poor’ in 2016.
Sepa uses a risk-based model to assess an operator’s environmental performance, helping the agency to target high-risk operations and under-performing sites.
- 12 cases referred to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
- 120 statutory notices served for environmental non-compliance
- 113 final warning letters issued for environmental non-compliance
- £92,575 in fines were handed out by sheriffs
Speaking at Suez’s recycling site in Aberdeen, Sepa chief executive Terry A’Hearn (pictured) said: “This latest report card on the environmental performance of Scottish regulated businesses is encouraging, with significant outcomes achieved for Scottish communities. It’s a reminder that we’ll work positively with those who want to do the right thing by Scotland’s environment, and a wake-up call to those that don’t.
“It’s also an indicator of where we next need to focus our attention and why we’re changing, creating a world-class environment protection agency fit for the challenges of tomorrow.”
David Palmer Jones, Suez UK chief executive, said: “Protecting and enhancing our environment is at the heart of [our] business. We therefore commend and support the approach Sepa is taking to protect the environment in Scotland by working in partnership with us and other businesses to improve overall compliance standards.
“For our sector, this helps to create a level playing field which protects not only the environment, but also the substantial investment by those delivering this vital infrastructure for Scotland.”