The Regulatory Reform Bill has cleared the final parliamentary hurdle, meaning Scotland is now better positioned to tackle environmental crime, after recommendations made by Scotland’s Environmental Crime Task Force (ECTF) have taken a step forward
The Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Bill introduces a new regime for environmental regulation, which includes a new enforcement framework that will strengthen the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)’s ability to impose penalties upon environmental criminals.
This will enable SEPA to better identify the most important environmental risks and harms and will ensure more effective and efficient protection of the environment, reduce the regulatory burden on business and allow regulators to take opportunities to improve the environment.
Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change – “Scotland’s environment is a vital national asset that is worth protecting; not only because of its beauty and contribution to our national identity, but also because it is vital to our economy’s success and the health and wellbeing of both our people and our wildlife”
The ECTF, tasked with supporting delivery of the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling environmental crime, made recommendations in its report published July last year (2013) that would aid in Scotland’s fight against environmental crime.
Criminal activities have a significant impact on Scotland’s environment, economy and communities and that the most effective way to tackle environmental crime is by partnership working between all relevant stakeholders, the ECTF said in its July report.
It proposed an improved toolkit to allow SEPA to impose fixed and variable monetary penalties, publicise the criminal activities of non-compliant operators as well as to recover the costs incurred throughout investigation and enforcement processes.
A central tenet of the proposals also includes powers to restrict the grant of permits or registration to those who are not considered “fit-and-proper persons”.
ECTF also recommended that an Environmental Crime Conference is developed and held in 2014 in which the vision of the ECTF in tackling serious waste crime, and particularly involving organised crime, is promoted to appropriate stakeholders.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse said: “This Bill takes forward our commitment to better environmental regulation and makes a key contribution to the Scottish Government’s purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth.
“Scotland’s environment is a vital national asset that is worth protecting; not only because of its beauty and contribution to our national identity, but also because it is vital to our economy’s success and the health and wellbeing of both our people and our wildlife.
“The way that SEPA works with business and other stakeholders can make a direct contribution to Scotland’s business environment. It’s clear that a healthy environment is integral to having a healthy economy. This Bill, which will bring efficiency gains to SEPA and to business, demonstrates the value in achieving this balance.”
For ECTF July report CLICK HERE