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SEPA reveals 10-point plan to support economic activity

25th November 2008

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has developed, with Government, a 10-point Plan to support economic activity during the current difficulties. The aim is to help the economy whilst also protecting the environment and the health and well being of communities across Scotland.

SEPA Chairman David Sigsworth said: "As Scotland's environment watchdog we in SEPA want to protect the environment and enable business and industry to realise the many economic benefits of good environmental practice. This is particularly important during these difficult times for the economy. We hope our 10-point plan will make a positive contribution to the Scottish Government's economic recovery plan."

SEPA CEO Campbell Gemmell said: "SEPA is already engaged in major areas of work that both protect the environment and set the right conditions for sustainable economic growth, improving customer relationships and simplifying regulatory processes in Scotland. We are, for example, a key player in the Scotland's Environmental and Rural Services (SEARS) partnership which is delivering real benefits for our rural customers.

"Our new 10-point plan adds to our response to the government-sponsored Regulatory Review Group. It also includes work we are initiating with business and enterprise on the provision of better business advice and the development of clean technology opportunities for Scottish industry. We are contributing to the Government's major review of the land use planning system and we are also investing significant resource in developing an improved approach to customer service.

"The health and well-being of people in Scotland is closely linked to the quality of their local environment. We will be targeting action at specific 'hot-spots' in rural and urban environments, aiming to help communities and businesses transform their local areas, benefitting both the environment and the economy.

1 Waiving application fees
New applications for environmental licences received by SEPA will be provided with a free application service for the remainder of 2008/09 financial year (with the exception of applications from the Public Sector).
This will benefit all businesses and individuals seeking to invest in new or improved facilities, operations and premises and may help the construction industry in particular, at this difficult time.

SEPA has already announced a waiver for disposal of spent sheep dip. More details can be found here.
Immediate

2 SEPA charges - increases below RPI
SEPA's charging schemes allow its charges for environmental licences and permits to be increased in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI). From 1 April 2009 SEPA will limit the increase in its charges to RPI less 2%. This will mean potential overall savings to regulated customers of around 0.6m from April 2009 onwards.
Details of SEPA Charging Schemes can be found here.
From 1 April 2009

3 Pay our creditors faster
SEPA has worked hard in recent years to reduce any delay in payments and already aims to pay its creditors within 14 days. We will maintain and improve this turn-around. More recently, SEPA has reduced the standard payment time to around 10 days, with many being paid even earlier than this.
SEPA pays creditors approximately 1.6 million per month.
Immediate



4 Allocate lead officers for major customers
SEPA already uses lead support officers for key customers involved in major development and infrastructure projects. We will intensify and extend this approach to help customers from early discussion before submitting an application to final completion of significant projects. One of the major benefits will be improved customer relationships and the early provision of SEPA's expert advice.
This should speed up decision making, for instance, on applications for environmental licences and planning consultations.
Immediate

5 Regulatory Review Group pilot project
We aim to streamline licensing processes, generate shorter and more understandable permits, improve our written communications and identify where legislative change could improve our effectiveness in both protecting the environment and simplifying the system for our customers.
Short term



6 Business advice
We are developing proposals and Action Plans with business and enterprise in relation to the delivery of business advice. As well as providing advice to business itself, SEPA will support business and enterprise with expert environmental advice.
Businesses will receive a simpler, more transparent and efficient service. Further information will be available soon.
Short term

7 Targeted clean up campaigns
We will identify potential sites for clean-up and local communities that would benefit. This would cover both rural and urban sites.
This would assist in addressing concerns raised by local communities where environmental concerns (eg issues like fly-tipping) are seen as a high priority.
Further information will be available soon.
Short term



8 Planning system
We are reprioritising, streamlining and improving overall co-ordination and effectiveness of engagement in the planning system.
By focusing effort on proposals with higher environmental risk, there should be a significant increase in the speed of determination of application, particularly for minor developments.
The Scottish Government hosted a Planning seminar on 28 October. Further details about SEPA's involvement can be found here.
Short term

9 Challenge fund for environmental technology
We will be developing joint proposals for a "Challenge Fund" with business and enterprise.
(see point 10 below).
This proposal is at the initial discussion stage. Further details will be announced as soon as possible.
Medium-term

10 Enterprise, Energy and Environment
We are in discussions with Government, enterprise and the business sector about developing the clean (environmental) technology sector in Scotland to develop innovative technology and improve transfer to other industries.
This will help companies focus on, for example, sustainable energy proposals that may present global research, development, sales and marketing opportunities.
This proposal is currently at the discussion stage, with final proposals due to be considered within a few weeks. Further details will be announced as soon as possible.
Medium-term

 

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