SEPA recovery and forestry applications
Thanks to Confor for this update:
You will be aware that SEPA suffered a serious cyber attack on Christmas Eve. With thanks to Tilhill for their help in getting SEPA to explain where things now stand, the following advice has been issued from their acting CEO:
Controlled Activities and Water Engineering licensing.
SEPA is now in a position to receive, process and issue CAR Engineering applications. However, as some technical limitations remain, we would ask that applicants use the online contact form in the first instance, specifying that you wish to submit a CAR engineering application. A member of the Permitting team will respond to discuss applications, how to submit them and timescales – where possible we will seek to meet applicant deadlines. In the coming weeks applicants will be able to submit forms directly, and this will be communicated on the Service Status page of our website when this option becomes available.
In order to ensure that SEPA provides responses to woodland creation proposals, long term forest plans and other large forestry projects, any communications should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance. Enquires will be triaged and sent to the appropriate team for comment. SEPA welcomes the point you make regarding the importance of receiving such responses and we will endeavour to provide a timeous response to enquiries.
SEPA staff are able to attend site visits but will prioritise activities that pose a high environmental risk or which have created an environmental incident. As above, if you require a site visit, please contact email@example.com and we will organise a site visit or provide advice remotely. This mirrors what happened before the Covid pandemic restrictions on staff visits and the cyber attack. For consultations and site visits, many enquiries can be resolved via telephone or e-mail, therefore as much detail as possible should be provided to enable SEPA to provide a satisfactory response.
If I could use South Scotland as an example, many new woodland planting pre-application enquiries have been received during Covid lockdown and responded to timeously, apart from the period January to February 2021 when our e-mail system was non-operational. However, many companies were able to receive satisfactory telephone responses to enquires as a temporary response. In addition, lines of communication between SEPA and Scottish Forestry have been restored to allow planting applications to receive approval which hopefully addresses any backlog issues.
I hope my response is helpful. If you wish to discuss any issues further, please do contact my colleague John Gorman via John.Gorman@Sepa.Org.Uk who will provide you with further updates.