Skip to main content

SEPA publish priorities for next three years

Date published: 28 March 2024


Scotland’s principal environment regulator have published a new Corporate Plan setting out how they will protect and improve Scotland’s environment over the next three years.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency, which recently welcomed a new Chair and six new Board members alongside a refresh of its corporate leadership team, have developed five strategic priorities to focus work to, as far as possible, also create health and well-being benefits, and sustainable economic growth.   

SEPA’s vision is set out in the plan, which lays the groundwork for a reset focusing on delivering the greatest possible environmental benefit, supporting the transition to a net zero and circular economy and enabling Scotland to be resilient to the changes already occurring due to climate change.  

It also re-states the regulator’s commitment to playing a leading role - working collaboratively with others - to create a healthy environment for future generations. 

SEPA’s five strategic priorities are:   

  • Net zero: Playing our part in helping Scotland to become a net zero country by 2045 
  • Climate resilience: Reducing the impacts of floods and droughts
  • Water environment: Protecting and improving our rivers, lochs, wetlands and seas 
  • Resource efficiency: Playing our part in helping Scotland transition to a circular economy
  • Business environmental performance: Securing high environmental performance from those that we regulate  

Key pieces of work include a new integrated framework for all authorisations, bringing all main regulatory regimes – covering radioactive substances, pollution prevention and control, water and waste under a single integrated process that’s more efficient and that allows the regulator to focus on the environmental risks with the greatest impact. 

The flood warning and mapping services SEPA provide for the people of Scotland will be developed and improved, helping to protect lives and livelihoods and strengthening the nation's resilience to the impacts of our changing climate. There will also be a stronger focus on planning for and warning about the impacts of drought and water scarcity.  

In addition, SEPA have laid out an approach to modernise the Agency under a series of programmes to future proof the organisation, with a delivery focus to maximise efficiency and effectiveness.  

Work will be further defined in annual operating plans which identify the detailed areas of work SEPA will focus on every year and identify specific indicators and milestones that they aim to achieve each year. The 2024 Annual operating Plan will be published in the next few weeks.  
SEPA’s Chief Executive, Nicole Paterson, said: 

“Scotland’s people rightly expect a lot from us. They expect us to provide strong leadership and to make a difference to their lives now and in the future. They expect their environment to be protected from harm so they can enjoy the benefits to health, well-being and the economy that a high-quality environment brings. They also expect us to do everything we can to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises.  

“This is a pivotal year for SEPA as we move forward with our reset - focusing on key outcomes and delivering nationally important public services by targeting our resources to maximise environmental benefit. Our new Corporate Plan sets out how we will work towards meeting the expectations of communities, business and partners over the next three years; protecting communities, preventing pollution, prioritising investment and providing leadership to help Scotland adapt to its changing climate, transition to a net zero economy and improve our environment for future generations.” 

Notes to editors