Scottish water polluters face new controls

SEPA to win power to issue legally-binding enforcement orders to prevent or end pollution

Scotland's environmental protection agency (SEPA) is being promised greater legal powers to control industrial water pollution, under plans announced by the Scottish executive on Friday. For the first time since it was set up in 1995, the agency is to be allowed to issue legally binding enforcement notices to any organisation licensed to discharge sewage or other effluent.

Now out to consultation, the proposal would allow SEPA to order firms to undertake remediation work not only if licence conditions were being breached, but also if the agency believed they risked being breached. "There is no point in investing heavily in public infrastructure only to allow that benefit to be undermined by the flouting of carefully agreed consents," said Scottish environment minister Sarah Boyack. "I intend these new powers...to be a key part of our programme".

Earlier this year, the executive proposed giving SEPA similar powers to serve water pollution control notices on operators of non-licensed sites as well as expansion of its powers to regulate agricultural silage, slurry and fuel.

* In a related development, the Anglo-Welsh environment agency on Thursday proposed a new draft regulation to govern industrial consents for discharging dangerous substances into water. The proposal covers discharges where quantities are too low to threaten the environment. The agency said that its proposal, on which it is now consulting stakeholders, would ensure fulfilment of UK obligations under the EU's 1976 dangerous substances directive.

Follow Up:
Scottish Executive, tel: +44 131 556 8400, and consultation paper; see also SEPA; Anglo-Welsh environment agency, tel: +44 1454 62 44 00.

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