SEPA talk for environmentalists in Selkirk

ENVIRONMENTALISTS are looking forward to a talk by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) next week on its work in the Borders.

Members of the John Muir Trust’s Borders group will hear Galashiels SEPA’s operations manager Angela Foss on the regulator’s work in the region at Selkirk Rugby Club on Monday.

Ms Foss said: “As Scotland’s environmental regulator, SEPA works to help businesses understand their environmental responsibilities and also aims to protect communities by regulating activities which can cause harmful pollution.

“The upcoming presentation to the John Muir Trust will provide us with an ideal opportunity to update the local members group on SEPA’s work in general and also issues of relevance to the Borders area.”

Asked what SEPA found itself doing most in the region, Ms Foss replied: “Day to day, our business may, for example, involve us in monitoring water quality within the Tweed catchment, visiting sites to undertake inspections to ensure that environmental requirements are being met, or meeting with stakeholders to provide information and advice on environmental issues.

“Quite a lot of our work is focused on the water environment, which reflects the geography of the local area and the importance of the Tweed catchment in this.”

Of the organisation’s work generally a SEPA spokesperson said: “We protect communities by regulating activities that can cause harmful pollution and by monitoring the quality of Scotland’s air, land and water.” 

SEPA is also responsible for Scotland’s flood warning system, helping to implement Scotland’s National Waste Strategy and controlling, with the Health and Safety Executive, the risk of major accidents at industrial sites.

The spokesperson added: “One of SEPA’s roles is to monitor and report on the state of Scotland’s environment and use that sound scientific understanding as a guide our independent regulation of activities that may affect its quality. We also publish a wide range of publications and environmental reports.”

The organisation’s Borders office in Galashiels is staffed by 22 people and is one of 22 offices across Scotland.

Asked what the biggest challenges for SEPA in the Borders, Ms Foss said: “As outlined in our annual operating plan we aim to initiate problem-solving projects to tackle priority environmental issues such as reducing diffuse pollution pressures of forestry land-use activities in the Solway Tweed River Basin Management Plan area.”

Ms Foss is also likely to outline how SEPA works with other organisations in the Borders.

She told us: “We work with a range of individuals, businesses and industry, and organisations such as local authorities and Scottish Water. This can vary from providing information and advice on good environmental practices to advising on licensing requirements or dealing with site-specific issues. SEPA is also a member of Tweed Forum which has a broad membership representing a spectrum of interests throughout the Tweed catchment.”