Skip to main content

Access to information

SEPA operates under two pieces of legislation that give you the right of access to information we hold.

  • Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 - known as FOI
  • Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 - known as EIR

SEPA receives hundreds of information requests every year and we aim to provide a high level of service to all enquirers.

While we want to be as open as possible the legislation allows, and sometimes requires us to withhold some types of information. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Personal information.
  • Information that is about to be published.
  • Information that is commercially confidential.
  • Information that relates to national security.

If disclosure may not be possible due to the application of an exemption, we still seek to release information in cases where the public interest overrides the exemption applied. Where an exemption applies, we still seek to release information in cases where the public interest overrides it.

We'll always explain our reasons if we withhold information.

Proactive publication of data

SEPA has an obligation to proactively publish our information. You can see what information we have available online below.

You may find the information you need is already available, and a request for information is not needed.

Public Register

SEPA must maintain certain information about activities we regulate in registers and make that information available to the public. These different registers of information are commonly referred to together as "the Public Register".

Our new Public Register page contains links to all Public Register information that is currently available online. For any information not currently available online you will need to make a request by emailing us at access to Information.

SEPA Disclosure Log

Previous requests for information are logged for you to search the titles by keyword. Note that all requests have been uploaded, particularly between 2020 and 2023.

SEPA Data webpage

We publish a range of datasets relating to the environment and are continually reviewing and adding to this list. Some of the most requested datasets are:

  • Air: Air Monitoring Sites, Volcanic Emissions Network.
  • Aquaculture: Monthly biomass and treatment reports, Sea Lice Reporting.
  • Flooding: Flood Maps, Flood Risk Management Plans, National Flood Risk Assessment.
  • Hydrometry: river flow, water levels, and rainfall data.
  • Pollutant release information: Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory (SPRI), monitoring points.
  • Waste information: Household waste data, Registered Waste Carriers and Brokers, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Public Register, Waste data reporting (Business), Waste management infrastructure capacity data.
  • Water: Reservoirs, river and coastal catchments, Drought Risk Assessment Tool, Drinking Water protected areas, Water Classification Hub, River Basin Management Planning.
  • Regulated Sites: Compliance Assessment Scheme, Map of Licensed Site.
  • LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging).
  • Some Spatial Data is published under the EU Inspire Directive.

Scotland's environment

This brings together environmental information and data in one place so it is easy to search, discover, analyse, and interpret. Also available are Scotland's Soils, Scotland's Aquaculture and Scotland's Noise.

SEPA website

Our website also holds a large amount of information. To help you find what you are looking for, the main sections are as follows:

  • Regulation: the legislation that applies to the environment, how we regulate, what activities are subject to regulation and why, what you need to do if your activity is subject to regulation, and how to find out more information.
  • Flooding: live flood updates, access to Floodline, how to check your flood risk, more information on flood maps, and flood risk assessment.
  • Environment: the environmental issues we report on, how they affect our regulatory activities, how we use our knowledge to create a bigger picture of the state of Scotland's environment, and contains links to a variety of useful data sources, publications and online resources.
  • About us: who we are, our aims, objectives and values, how we work and what our people do, and how you can play your part in helping to protect our environment.

Making a request

If you are unable to find what you need you can request any information, regardless of who you are, where you live or what you want the information for.

To submit a request for information, please email our Access to Information Service. You should be as specific as possible about the information you want so we can help you, although you do not need to tell us why you want it.

We must respond to your request within 20 working days. However, if your request concerns environmental information, we are, in exceptional circumstances, allowed to take up to 40 working days to respond. We will contact you if we need to extend this deadline.

Once your enquiry has been received, we will send you written acknowledgement and a unique reference number, which should be quoted in any correspondence relating to your request.

Requests for information need to be reasonable for an authority to complete within the 20 working days given within the legislation. It helps us to help you if you can focus your request on the key points you really want to know. You might also find it helpful to think about the question, "What is the key piece of information you want?" so that you can define the wording of your request for that specific piece of information.

We may need to ask you for further information to enable us to answer your request within the allowed time. We can provide advice and assistance to help you focus your request to make sure you are getting the information which is most relevant to you.

Further advice and assistance with making a request for information is available on the Scottish Information Commissioner's website.

Making a request for personal data

You have a right to see information about yourself by submitting a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act 2018.

If you wish to make a subject access request, please complete the subject access request form which should contain sufficient information to allow reasonable identification of the data required. You will also need to send a copy of photographic identification.


Most enquiries are free of charge. However, if your request takes more than seven hours to complete, the following charges can apply;

  • £25 an hour of staff time for environmental information
  • £15 an hour of staff time for non-environmental information, with charges applicable up to 10 per cent of the total cost.

If we need to make a charge, we will contact you before work on your request commences and advise you of this.

Service performance

We are committed to delivering a high-quality Access to Information Service and making the process for requesting information as straightforward as possible.

The table below shows our performance over the past 12 months:

Month Number of responses due Percentage of responses sent within timescale
April 24 182 95
March 24 139 96
February 24 155 94
January 24 117 85
December 23 109 77
November 23 150 65
October 23 144 60
September 23 137 66
August 23 132 55
July 23 118 81
June 23 116 78
May 23 133 70

In March 2023, we closed our backlog of historic environmental information requests that were outwith the strict limits for requesting a formal review or appeal. Over the next six months, we will be contacting requesters affected by this to set out next steps.

Reviews and appeals

Every request for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 or the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 is formally logged as follows:

  • Stage 1 - Request for information
  • Stage 2 - Formal review
  • Stage 3 - Appeal for decision by the Scottish Information Commissioner (OSIC)

Once your request has been received, you will receive a response from us within 20 working days, along with the requested information and/or an explanation regarding any withheld information.

If you are not happy with the response (or have not had a response), you have the right to request a formal review from SEPA. Every internal formal review will be fair, reasonable, transparent, and proportionate and will have clear terms of reference.

If you do not agree with the findings of out internal review, you can appeal the the Scottish Information Commissioner, who is responsible for enforcing Scotland's freedom of information laws.