SEPA shows that sustainability is a worthwhile challenge

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency ‘Sustainable SEPA’ report
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency ‘Sustainable SEPA’ report

As if to underline that being sustainable can be a challenge even for an environmental regulator, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has published its ‘Sustainable SEPA’ report provides an annual update (for the period covering 2012 – 2013) on how SEPA is keeping pace with its internal targets to improve its own sustainability, and also explains its activities in response to its duties under Scotland’s ambitious climate change act.

In its report on its internal targets, the Agency has achieved 4 out of 6 environmental targets for 2012 – 2013 covering waste, procurement and biodiversity. These successes include:

  • Establishing a baseline of internal waste levels, showing what is currently recycled, composted, reused and sent to landfill in order to allow the setting and measurement of future targets.
  • Hitting its target to segregate key dry recyclates at source nine months earlier than the Scottish national target.
  • Achieving a 5% increase in the number of sustainable goods and services procured in line with its sustainability criteria.
  • Reviewing existing Biodiversity Action Plans already in place with a view to having them implemented at 100% of SEPA buildings by 2017.

The report shows that SEPA has struggled in meeting its greenhouse gas emission targets, where the Agency aims to reduce its emissions by 42% by 2020 based on a 2006 – 2007 baseline. SEPA’s emissions are 10.1% lower than the baseline year but its total emissions of carbon dioxide rose by 2.4% during 2012 – 2013.

However, this is broadly in line with SEPA’s internal greenhouse gas plan which predicts that emissions will rise for a temporary period of time as the Agency adopts new buildings, but that emissions will reduce when its older buildings have been disposed of.

The Agency also did not achieve its travel emissions reduction target of -5% for 2012 – 2013 but still managed to reduce emissions by 1.9% and reported a significant reduction in business car mileage of 24% in the 2 previous years.  While SEPA’s efforts to further reduce emissions from transport will continue, it has achieved significant reductions over the past 6 years.  From 2006 – 2007 to 2011 – 2012 SEPA reduced its emissions from all transport modes combined by 30%, including a 96% reduction in its UK mainland flights from 1,461 in 2006-2007 to 62 in 2010-2011.

The Agency has set new targets for 2013 – 2014, to reduce emissions levels for travel and transport, and to produce a revised Biodiversity Action Plan for each appropriate SEPA office location, during 2013 – 2014.

The report goes on to demonstrate the considerable progress which the Agency has made in response to the public bodies’ duties and that they can demonstrate successes for the other public sector organisations and the private sector to follow.

A copy of the recently published review, previous review and associated documents can be found at

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