Union Support for Fresh Approach to Environmental Regulations

NFU Scotland has given its support to efforts to refocus the activity of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) away from process driven regulation towards better engagement and information-sharing with stakeholders.

The Union was responding to the Scottish Government consultation: ‘Proposals for an Integrated Framework of Environmental Regulation.’   It highlighted that the recent progress made on tackling diffuse pollution in many river catchment areas – where SEPA has worked very closely with the farming industry - could provide a model for joint working on environmental regulations in the future.

It may also supply useful pointers were Scotland to adopt the option currently available under CAP Reform proposals to develop an official advisory service.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:
“The success of the ongoing efforts to deliver better environmental regulation to reduce the red tape associated with farming, will depend heavily on government and regulators creating the administrative conditions that reduce duplication and unnecessary record keeping.  It is equally important that we foster individual decisions that are in the interests of farming businesses and the environment.

“The preliminary indications from how SEPA has tackled a difficult issue like diffuse pollution in priority river catchment areas illustrates the gains that can be made in terms of environmental protection.  Better engagement with the farming community has helped to deliver the objectives of the regulator.  That is a model for delivering regulation that would be worth repeating.

“We believe that regulators share this vision and we have received assurances from both Scottish Government and SEPA that the enforcement proposals outlined in the consultation do not signal a return to tick-box, enforcement first regulation.

“That said, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about how the new enforcement tools proposed in this consultation would operate in practice and how they would fit alongside the existing cross-compliance regime.  We have urged the Scottish Government and SEPA to carry out further consultation on this.

“It is in the best interests of all that compliance with environmental regulations – which can be both complex and confusing – is as simple and easy for all parties concerned to understand as this will ensure best delivery on environmental objectives.   If that is backed by a risk-based, pragmatic and proportionate approach to enforcement, then that provides a framework that we can build on.

“SEPA's approach to assisting farm businesses on compliance with diffuse pollution rules fits with our view of how an official advisory service, as permitted under current CAP Reform proposals, may operate.   We have already lobbied Government strongly to adopt the option to develop an advisory arm of SGRPID to promote best practice and understanding of compliance at farm level. This approach across a wide range of regulation would add to SEPA’s current approach and build a more positive culture.”

Notes to Editors

  • A full copy of NFU Scotland’s submission on the proposed integrated framework for environmental regulation is available on request.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 85/12

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