Scotland has a wide range of environmental laws aimed at protecting and enhancing our environment. These include the prevention and control of pollution, the regulation of waste management, and measures to improve and protect the water environment. Most environmental legislation makes provision for appeals (or questions, representations, objections etc.) to be made to the Scottish Ministers by people who are affected by a decision made by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency or Scottish Water as regulatory or statutory authorities ('the authority').
There are more than one hundred different legal provisions under which 'environmental' appeals can be made to Scottish Ministers. The most common of these are appeals against decisions made and notices served by authorities under:
- The Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000
- The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005
- The Sewerage (Scotland) Act 1968
- The Water (Scotland) Act 1980
See Environmental Legislation for a more detailed list of the legislation under which appeals can be made to the Scottish Ministers.
The majority of appeals to Scottish Ministers will be decided by a member of the Scottish Government's Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA), known as a 'reporter'. Normally a reporter will be specifically and individually appointed to decide the appeal. Decisions are issued by the reporter on behalf of Ministers. This is an efficient means of handling those appeals that do not need decisions to be made at Ministerial level.
In some cases the Scottish Ministers might decide the appeal themselves. If this happens, the appeal will still be dealt with by a reporter, who will then write a report and make a recommendation for Ministers to consider before they make their decision. This will happen very rarely and only in exceptional circumstances, perhaps because the appeal raises issues of national interest that make it appropriate to have a Ministerial decision. Ministers do not have to agree with or accept the reporter's recommendation.
In the main, the procedures to be followed will depend on the type of appeal and the issues it raises. In some cases, the person making the appeal and the authority have a legal right to have their case heard in front of the reporter. This would be either at a hearing or a local inquiry. See Appeal Procedures for more information.