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Memorandum of understanding between the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Health and Safety Executive



On 1 April 1996 the functions of Her Majesty's Industrial Pollution Inspectorate (HMIPI), the River Purification Board and the Waste Regulatory Authorities were vested in the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). In addition, the Department of Environment, Transport and Regions (DETR) has taken on responsibility for the sponsorship of the Health and Safety Executive. This Memorandum of Understanding between the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Health and Safety Executive establishes the arrangements with effect from 14 December 1998. This document sets out the key principles which underpin the Memorandum of Understanding.


This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is between the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its purpose is to ensure effective co-ordination of the regulation of plant, processes and substances (including radioactive substances) and measures to protect people and the environment, which are subject to regulation by SEPA and HSE.

2.   The MoU establishes an overarching framework for liaison between SEPA and HSE. Supplementary MoUs describe the detailed working arrangements for co-ordination of functions on specific topics and will form annexes to this Memorandum of Understanding. In particular these include broad guidance on the interface between SEPA and HSE, and their respective responsibilities.

3.   Interfaces between SEPA and HSE may arise in many ways, for example, in the regulation of new and existing substances, the regulation of industrial processes and radioactive waste, and in the prevention of pollution. Under this Memorandum of Understanding both SEPA and HSE are committed to close co-operation to minimise duplication of regulatory effort and ensure that neither industry nor any other party is faced with conflicting demands where both regulatory authorities have an interest.

4.  It is the responsibility of every individual at all management levels in both organisations to adopt an intelligent and open approach, and to ensure prompt action, whenever the need arises, to achieve effective liaison between SEPA and HSE. This may involve discussions at the working level to agree how the statutory provisions and standards issued under them should be interpreted in particular circumstances, in order to prevent misunderstanding and to determine ways of reconciling any differences that may arise. Reference to a higher level of management may be necessary in some cases.

Co-ordination Group

5.   A Joint Co-ordination Group, chaired at Director level for SEPA and Head of Policy Unit for HSE, will meet within one year of the establishment of a Scottish Parliament, and normally every 2-3 years (or sooner as the need arises), to review the working of the Memorandum of Understanding. The chair will be taken alternately by SEPA and HSE (with SEPA taking the chair for the period 1998/99), and there will be a joint secretariat.

6. The terms of reference for the Joint Co-ordination Group are to keep under review the working of the Memorandum of Understanding and in particular:

(a) to resolve any problems referred to the Group, and to identify, consider and if possible resolve any problems of a general nature arising from the practical application of statutory provisions and responsibilities;

(b) to make recommendations for changes to the Memorandum as necessary;

(c) to consider operational implications of policy decisions;

(d) to identify subjects on which supplementary MoU should be prepared; and

(e) to discuss other matters of common interest.

7.   Membership of the Group will comprise representatives of both organisations as agreed by the respective co-chairs. In the event of the Group's inability to resolve particular issues which may bear on policy matters, SEPA will refer to its Board, and HSE to its Board or to the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) as appropriate.

A Framework for Liaison

8.   Effective liaison is needed in each of the following activities:

(a) operational matters;

(b) enforcement;

(c) comments to planning authorities;

(d) responses to incidents and emergencies;

(e) inputs to international work;

(f) provision of technical standards and guidance;

(g) monitoring new developments; and

(h) disclosure of information.

Working Arrangements

Brief working arrangements to cover each of these aspects are set out below.

Operational Matters

9.   Most contacts between SEPA and HSE will arise in the context of day to day operations, and the Appendix lists examples of issues on which individuals are likely to liaise. It is the responsibility of individuals in both organisations to identify topics needing liaison as they arise, and ensure that they are dealt with effectively.


10.   SEPA and HSE will, at national and local level, consider enforcement issues which are of mutual concern, such as the co-ordination of approaches to particular employers and operators and liaison where formal enforcement is planned at sites of joint interest. SEPA and HSE will consult before referring matters of mutual concern to the Procurator Fiscal for possible prosecution.

Comments to Local Planning Authorities

11.   Both SEPA and HSE provide Planning Authorities (PAs) with comments about the possible impact of industrial developments on people and the environment in their vicinity. There will be a need for liaison to consider and when necessary resolve any differences of interest at sites of mutual concern and to avoid any apparent contradictions whenever planning issues involve the interests of both SEPA and HSE, before comments are given to PAs. Where appropriate, responses from both organisations to PAs should make it clear that such liaison has taken place

Responses to Incidents and Emergencies

12.   HSE and SEPA have major roles in connection with incidents and emergencies. Whenever one organisation learns of an incident or emergency where the other may have an interest, it should pass on the information as soon as practicabl

Inputs to International Work

13.   HSE and SEPA have roles in the preparation and implementation of international legislation, standards and commitments. Those concerned should consult with each other, and with the Scottish Office, as appropriate. This may involve both technical and policy considerations.

Provision of Technical Standards and Guidance

14.   HSE and SEPA should liaise in the application and interpretation of technical standards and the preparation of relevant guidance.

Monitoring of New Developments

15.   SEPA and HSE should keep each other informed at the earliest stage of new developments which are likely to be of mutual interest. The aim of this is to ensure that there is effective technical co-ordination in the application of both technical standards and working practices to proposed new developments.

Disclosure of Information

16 HSE and SEPA are open about their activities as part of their commitment to the Citizens' Charter and compliance with the Environmental Information Regulations 1992 and the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information 1994. Information requested must be disclosed unless it is covered by an exemption (including any statutory restriction). To encourage a consistent approach to disclosure, it is important that the enforcing authority responsible for particular premises should be aware of any proposed disclosure to the public, including the media, on significant items of mutual concern, and should make the other enforcing authority aware of that disclosure. Requests for the exchange of information by either of the two organisations will normally be met, subject to any statutory prohibitions.



Alasdair Paton  
for the Scottish Environment
Protection Agency 



Jenny Bacon
for the Health and Safety Executive

Date: 8/12/98



1.  Permissions

Statutory consultations.

2.   Processes

Design, operation, maintenance and decommissioning. Reliability, integrity and quality assurance. Flexibility and redundancy. Control and instrumentation, pressure relief systems.

3.   Substances in process

Minimisation of waste. Storage and treatment of waste. Reaction kinetics. Process Intermediates. Toxicology.

4.  Releases

Abatement - BAT (Best Available Techniques) and BPM (Best Practicable Means). Modelling behaviour. Impact on people (including fugitive releases). Sampling, monitoring.

5. Incidents and Emergencies

Releases which may be in breach of permitted limits or conditions.

6.   Enforcement

Issue of notices. Prosecutions. Implementation of the 'Ozone' Regulations and Existing Substances Regulations. Future implementation of the Marketing and Use Directive.

7.   Major Hazards and Planning

Environment impact assessment. Environmental aspects of CIMAH and COMAH.

8.   Waste on Land

Stability of sites. Landfill gas, sampling and monitoring. Contaminated land.

9.  Radioactive Waste Management

Implementation of national strategy, application of principles for radiological protection of people and the environment, design assessments of plant and audit of waste management arrangements.

10.   Pesticides/Veterinary Medicines

Point source issues. Diffuse issues.

Published on the HSE web site 16 October 2002

Updated 2012-12-07