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SEPA set out actions for next 12 months

Date published: 30 April 2024

SEPA's environmental performance

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have published their 2024-25 Annual Operating Plan, detailing how they will protect and improve Scotland’s environment over the next 12 months.

The publication follows the launch of a new Corporate Plan at the end of March, which set out the agency’s ambition and priorities for the coming three years. While the Corporate Plan outlined SEPA’s long-term goals, strategies and initiatives, highlighting the direction and vision for the organisation, the Annual Operating plan (AOP) details specific actions and targets for core duties and focussed projects over the coming year – translating the high-level vision into actionable and reportable steps.  

The plan explains how the organisation will meet their statutory purpose, fulfil core duties and continue to deliver high quality services under five headings. 

  1. Protect - We protect Scotland’s environment and communities from harm
  2. Avoid - We help to avoid environmental harm and increased future risks from flooding
  3. Adapt - Our information and advice help Scotland to adapt to the impacts of our changing climate
  4. Improve - We improve Scotland’s environment for future generations
  5. Warn - We warn communities and businesses about potential harm and risk of flooding 

Alongside this it details specific areas of focus for the organisation, including specific indicators and milestones to achieve, to progress the long-term strategic priorities previously announced: net zero, climate resilience, water environment, resource efficiency and business environmental performance. 

Detailing the agency’s objectives in this way provides transparency about how the organisation will allocate resources, prioritise work and measure progress to achieve these. 

SEPA’s Chief Executive, Nicole Paterson, said:  

“This is a pivotal year for SEPA. Last month we published our three-year Corporate Plan setting out five strategic priorities to focus our work. Today we’re providing more detail on what we’ll be focusing on in the next 12 months to play our lead role in safeguarding Scotland’s environment.  

“More than ever, we must have strong leadership, ambition, confidence and collaborative working to see meaningful change. We have strong foundations on which to build, and we are committed to playing our leadership role. But we can’t succeed alone.  

“Collective action amplifies impact. I encourage everyone interested in SEPA’s work to read our Annual Operating Plan to better understand our goals and strategies. Being open about our areas of focus will help us connect with businesses and communities, allowing us to deliver through partnerships that enable us to harness diverse experience, resources and perspectives – fostering innovation and sustainable solutions for the future of Scotland’s environment.” 

Areas of focus

Read SEPA’s Annual Operating Plan in full online.

Key pieces of work include:

  • Targeting interventions to disrupt, impact and reduce environmental crime  
  • Consulting on proposals for a new environmental performance assessment scheme
  • Regulatory reform that allows SEPA to focus on the environmental risks with the greatest impact   Reviewing charging schemes
  • Improving flood warning and mapping services  
  • A stronger focus on planning for and warning about the impacts of drought and water scarcity
  • Delivering projects that restore rivers and remove or ease barriers to migratory fish  
  • Implementing innovative e-DNA and chemical screening methodology  
  • Piloting a new approach to regulation in the Grangemouth Industrial cluster  

The plan also emphasises transparency, stakeholder engagement and investment in people, systems and services. 

A small suite of measures for this AOP have been included, which link to the strategic measures in the Corporate Plan. Progress will be reported through quarterly performance reports, as well as the Annual Report and Accounts. 

Notes to editor

Scotland’s environment is a unique and valuable resource, that sits at the heart of our nation’s health, well-being, and prosperity. SEPA recognise this in their statutory purpose ‘to protect and improve the environment in ways that, as far as possible, also contribute to improving health and well-being and achieving sustainable economic growth’. 

You can view SEPA's Corporate Plan for more information on the agency’s long-term goals, strategies and initiatives, highlighting the direction and vision for the organisation