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UKELA Presses for SEPA to take a “long-term view” on sustainable development

Aug 04, 2014

Further information
linda Farrow

As consultation closed today on statutory guidance to SEPA - the Scottish Environment Protection Agency - on its role in relation to sustainable development, UKELA was reassured that protecting and improving the environment remains SEPA’s primary objective and argued for some important changes of emphasis in the draft guidance.

The draft statutory guidance has been developed by the Scottish Government as a result of the new general purpose inserted into the Environment Act 1995 by the Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. The guidance aims to help SEPA in balancing different aspects of sustainable development – health and wellbeing, environmental protection, management of natural resources and assets and economic considerations - in reaching regulatory decisions.

UKELA’s response welcomed the decision to include definitions of sustainable economic growth and sustainable development in the draft Statutory Guidance, while also expressing concerns about disparity in the definition of sustainable economic growth and its relationship with sustainable development in different government policy documents.

To avoid the risk of an undue emphasis on economic aspects over others, UKELA has suggested that “the health and wellbeing of communities” takes precedence in the guidance over the management of Scotland’s stock of “potential resources and assets able to produce value and ongoing services to Scotland’s economy”. Importantly, UKELA also argues for a “long-term view” to be taken when factoring the value of ‘ecosystem services’ into the equation.

"This guidance is important in helping SEPA balance a number of potentially competing policy considerations in their decision making" said Lizzie Tainsh, of UKELA's Scottish Law Working Party. "We are pleased to be able to emphasise the importance of Scotland's natural resource base being protected for the long-term in decisions made today."

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