Response 121245843

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About You

What is your name?

Peter Hutchinson

Are you responding as an individual or an organisation?

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Ticked Organisation

What is your organisation?

Scottish Natural Heritage

Part 2: Policy Overview

1. Do you agree with the benefits set out here?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes

2. Are there any other comments you would like to make on Part 2?

Are there any other comments you would like to make on Part 2?§
We welcome the reference to the environment building business benefits and providing opportunities, not problems. This concurs with SNH’s approach to supporting good development and our efforts to promote Scotland’s environment as one of our unique selling points – it gives a competitive edge to business, contributing to social and economic assets and supporting long term trading advantage. We also welcome the principles of streamlining regulation, expecting compliance to be the minimum required, the promotion of sustainable use and the protection of ecosystem services. The consultation focuses on vertical integration. This is understandable given SEPA’s Regulatory Strategy. However, we should not lose sight of horizontal integration within the regulatory environment. We have worked with SEPA to progress this, for example, our collaborative work to support the hydro industry and joint working arrangement on planning consultations. The need to continue with this work was reiterated in our recent Customer Survey, with customers raising concerns about the consistency of advice between organisations. We are doing further work to understand these concerns but it was a useful reminder of the need for regulatory functions in different organisations to be aligned. The Review of the Scottish Regulators’ Strategic Code of Practice provides an opportunity to explore further integration and alignment within the regulatory environment, and we look forward to working with SEPA on this.

Part 3: Key features of the new framework for authorisation holders.

5. If so, are the outcomes proposed the right ones?

We agree that the framework should have a set of universal outcomes. We agree that the prevention of harm, sustainable use of resources and prevention of incidents and accidents are appropriate outcomes for the framework. The focus on delivering outcomes could be developed further through alignment with outcomes/commitments in environmental strategies such as 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity. Indeed, there may be scope to consider outcomes that may flow from aspirations for an Environmental Strategy for Scotland.

9. Do you agree that SEPA should consult on the guidance setting out the likely tier of authorisation for particular activities?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
Do you agree that SEPA should consult on the guidance setting out the likely tier of authorisation for particular activities?
Yes, SEPA should consult on the guidance setting out the likely tier of authorisation for activities. Setting this out in guidance would give SEPA more flexibility to change the tier set for an activity. This flexibility needs to be balanced with a requirement to consult on changes and on whether an activity is appropriately covered by standard conditions or if it needs a more specific assessment that would be covered by an application for a permit.

10. Do you agree that standard rules will deliver the benefits we have set out?

We agree that there are benefits from having standard rules. However, it will be important to ensure that those applications that do require bespoke conditions are appropriately assessed and those conditions applied rather than trying to fit the activity into the standard conditions. For example, we have agreed screening procedures for Natura sites under CAR that set out particular activities where we have agreed possible Likely Significant Effect. In these cases applications will probably need to be escalated to permit level.

12. Do you agree that SEPA and Scottish Ministers should have the ability to make GBRs?

We agree with the proposal in the consultation that any GBRs made by SEPA should be approved by Scottish Ministers and should go out for consultation.

19. Do you agree with the proposed application processes?

We have recently agreed a revised approach to dealing with CAR applications for Natura 2000 sites. We need to clarify how this would operate under the integrated authorisation framework. For example, would the same process which currently applies to CAR then apply to the other existing regimes?

Part 4: Key features of the new framework for the public

34. Do you support SEPA having more flexibility in how information is made available to the public?

There have been some issues in the past where SEPA has made environmentally sensitive information available on their website. In some instances, it is important to withhold sensitive information (provided it falls within the clear legislative categories that allow it to be withheld).

36. Do you agree that the procedural arrangements for third party call-in under CAR should be extended to all regulated activities?

In our recent agreement for CAR applications and Natura sites, we included guidance on a final escalation process if SNH and SEPA were unable to agree. In these circumstances, the Scottish Government could be asked to review the decision. We note that the policy listed in the second bullet in para 4.4.4 would not seem to allow for this to happen. Therefore, it should be noted that, until we have reached agreement at the UK level on appropriate standards for Natura sites, there may be instances where we advise that there is a risk of failure to secure compliance with the requirements of the Natura Directives.