They include some well-known names, some serial offenders and some surprises. And today they are being named and shamed by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).
Amongst those accused of having “very poor” or “poor” pollution records are the troubled oil giant BP, the big waste companies Shanks and SITA, and four leading local authorities: Aberdeenshire, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire and City of Glasgow.
Landfill sites, waste plants, paper mills, farms, chemical works, vehicle operations, energy facilities and all kinds of other industrial sites are condemned. As are a Co-op coffin factory in Glasgow, a crematorium in Aberdeen and cheese companies in Lockerbie and Stranraer.
Some of those under fire accept the charges, some deny them and some have closed down. A few are facing legal action, and several are seeking to make improvements.
Environmental groups are this weekend demanding tougher sanctions on polluters. "Year on year Sepa names polluting companies and year on year too many of the same names reappear in the list,” said Duncan McLaren, the chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland.
“And even where individual companies improve, poor publicity is too weak a sanction to provide a lesson to others. It's past time for the government to provide tougher powers for Sepa to bring these companies to book.”
If Sepa didn’t take polluters to court, McLaren argued that community and environmental groups should be allowed to. He also called on ministers to redouble their efforts to cut waste and increase recycling.
Under a new “compliance assessment” process it has judged the environmental record of the company and council sites it regulated in 2009. It put 20 in the worst “very poor” category (see tables below).
According to Sepa, this means that operators are guilty of “significant non-compliance” and that “urgent improvement is required across all areas”.
A further 55 sites are classified as “poor”. This means that Sepa has assessed the operators as “non-compliant or responsible for at least one significant breach.”
Another 24 sites are judged to be “at risk”. This suggests, says Sepa, that “low management performance indicates risk of future breaches of environmental limit conditions.”
Of the remaining sites, 44 are assessed as “broadly compliant”, 241 as “good” and 702 as “excellent”. This new system of classifying polluters is replacing a more limited “operator performance assessment” which Sepa has used for the last 12 years.
One of the worst offenders is Aberdeenshire Council which has two landfill sites and two waste plants damned as poor or very poor. There were 20 breaches of pollution rules at the sites last year, causing leaks, smells and litter.
The council’s performance was criticised by Councillor Martin Ford, who is standing for the Scottish Green Party at next year’s Scottish parliamentary election. “I am increasingly concerned about Aberdeenshire Council's environmental record,” he said.
“The council is not achieving even minimum standards, while claiming action on the environment is a priority."
Aberdeenshire Council, however, dismissed the problems raised by Sepa as “minor issues” that had been dealt with. "The four sites in question are no longer active," said a council spokesman.
Two landfill sites and a waste plant run by Scottish-registered Shanks are assessed as poor or very poor. They are accused of “poor site management” and “repeated” and “gross” breaches of pollution rules by Sepa.
The company argued that it had addressed the problems, and closed down one site. “We are confident the next assessment results will show a significant improvement,” said Austen Lees, UK marketing and communications manager for Shanks.
Another waste company, SITA UK, part of the £10 billion French multinational Suez Environnement, has three landfill sites under fire for breaches and smells. It did not respond to a request for a comment on Friday.
Sepa has judged the environmental performance of the British oil multinational, BP, at the Sullom Voe oil terminal in Shetland as “poor” - the second year running it has criticised the site. But the assessment is disputed by the company, under pressure internationally for the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to BP, the problems were failing to clear up a pile of building rubble and failing to submit monitoring results in the form required. “The site has demonstrated an improved environmental performance during the year and the Sepa assessment is disappointing,” said a BP spokesman.
North Ayrshire Council’s Shewalton landfill site in Irvine, which also failed an assessment in 2008, has suffered “numerous breaches” and is rated as very poor. “Large numbers of complaints received from members of the public with regard to odour and in the summer months, flies,” says Sepa.
North Lanarkshire Council’s Auchinlea landfill in Wishaw is also said to be very poor due to gas leaks, as it was the previous year. But these were dismissed by the council’s cleansing manager, Harry Morgan, as “historic issues” on which progress had been made.
Sepa has assessed the performance of Glasgow City Council at the Cathkin landfill in East Kilbride in 2009 as poor, as it did for the previous two years. But this has been disputed by the council which has asked the watchdog to reexamine the assessment.
A plant manufacturing carbon fibres run by the German company, SGL, at Muir of Ord in Rosshire has been highlighted by Sepa for breaching its emission limits over the last four years. The site’s director, Clemens Hauswirth, said: “We are disappointed at the performance report this year although we do dispute some of the findings.”
Among the more surprising sites singled out for criticism by Sepa are The Cheese Company in Lockerbie, the Caledonian Cheese Company in Stranraer and the Arnold Clark van centre in Glasgow. Aberdeen City Council’s crematorium at Hazlehead had “repeated visible emissions from stacks” in 2009.
A coffin factory run by the ethically-conscious Co-operative Funeralcare at Bogmor Place in Glasgow is rated as poor by Sepa for failing to supply pollution reports. “This has come as a complete surprise,” said a Co-op spokesman.
“Only last week Sepa audited the premises and gave us an excellent report. We will be taking the matter up immediately with Sepa.”
According to Calum MacDonald, Sepa's director of operations, the new compliance system was being gradually phased in. "It will provide a simple, consistent framework and approach across various regulatory regimes, which will lead to objective and transparent compliance assessment,” he said.
He pointed out that there was “no direct translation” from the old operator performance assessments because the process was now different. “The new scheme has been introduced as part of Sepa's better regulation agenda,” MacDonald told the Sunday Herald.
“Although Sepa is committed to helping operators to meet their environmental responsibilities, we will not shy away from taking appropriate enforcement action in relation to sites which consistently fail to meet our standards.”
The 99 places with the worst pollution record
Very poor (20)
Aberdeenshire Council, Brandon Howe Landfill Site, Inverboyndie
Aberdeenshire Council, Kirkhill Waste Treatment Plant, Mintlaw
AP Jess, Environmental Gasification Factory, Brechin
AP Jess, Abattoir, Brechin
Bodychell Sand & Gravel, Memsie, Fraserburgh
Border Precision solvent plant, Kelso
Charles River waste plant, Elphinstone, Tranent
Cohen Alloys, Craigton, Glasgow
J&M Murdoch, East Capellie Farm Landfill, East Renfrewshire
Mitchell Inglis car repair, South Street, Glasgow
North Ayrshire Council, Shewalton landfill site
North East Incineration Services knackery, Douglasbrae, Banffshire
North Lanarkshire Council, Auchinlea landfill site
Scotgen Dargavel Energy From Waste Facility, Dumfries
SGL Carbon Fibres, Muir of Ord, Rosshire
Shanks Eco-Deco RDF Plant, Dumfries
Shanks Galdenoch Waste Disposal Site, Stranraer
SITA North East, Hill of Tramaud Landfill, Harehill, Aberdeen
TEG Environmental composting plant, Glenfarg, Perthshire
The Cheese Company, Priestdykes, Lockerbie
A & F Grant haulage, Ballindalloch, Banff
Aberdeen Crematorium, Hazlehead, Aberdeen
Aberdeenshire Council, Crows Nest Landfill, Banchory
Aberdeenshire Council, Inverboyndie Waste Treatment Plant, Banff
AK Stoddart Ltd, Heathfield Abattoir, Ayr
Alba Proteins, Dumfries
Ardagh Glass, Irvine
Arjo Wiggins Stoneywood Mill, Aberdeen
Arla Foods, Lockerbie Dairy, Priestdykes
Arnold Clark van centre, Kilbirnie Street, Glasgow
Augean Treatment waste plant, Paisley
Avondale Environmental landfill, Polmont
Bardyke Chemicals, Cambuslang
BP, Sullom Voe Terminal, Shetland
Buckie Shipyard, Banff
Caledonian Cheese Company, Stranraer
Caradale Brick, Mayfield Works, Carluke
Co-operative Group coffin factory, Glasgow
Craig & Rose solvents plant, Dunfermline
Dow Water Management, Muirhouse Landfill, Strathblane
Easyblast cleaning plant, Kintore, Aberdeenshire
Electrical Waste Recycling, Denmark St, Glasgow
Ennstone Thistle, Furnace Quarry, Upper Loch Fyne
Ennstone Thistle, Stirlinghill Quarry, Boddam
Forfar Galvanisers, Suttieside, Angus
Glasgow City Council, Cathkin Landfill, East Kilbride
GR Service Company, West Carron Landfill, Falkirk
Healthcare Environmental Services, Dundee
Healthcare Environmental, Shotts
Hook2Sisters, Dubton of Turin Farm, Guthrie
Iain Jamieson & Partners, Finnieston Farm, Letham
International Paper UK, Inverurie Mills, Aberdeen
James Cordiner & Son, Silverbank Sawmills, Banchory
KemFine, Grangemouth, Falkirk
Les Taylor, Savoch Landfill Site, Peterhead
Lighthouse Caledonia fish plant, Ardkinglas, Cairndow
Mersen Scotland insulation plant, Eurocentral, Holytown
Norbord, Morayhill, Inverness
Orkney Direct Quarries, Cursiter Quarry
Patersons Greenoakhill Landfill Site, Glasgow
Shanks, Aucheniness Waste Disposal Site, Dalbeatie
SITA UK, Stoneyhill Environmental Park, Peterhead
SITA, Binn Landfill, Glenfarg, Perthshire
Smith Skip, Knowes Farm IV Landfill Site, Beith
SSF Processing Plant, Ledaig, Argyll
Straid Farm landfill site, Lendalfoot, Girvan
Tarbolton landfill site, South Ayrshire
Tayside Contracts, Bolshan Quarry Landfill, Friockheim, Angus
Tullis Russell mill, Glenrothes, Fife
TWMA waste transfer station, Peterhead
Waste Recycling Group, Oatslie Sandpit Landfill, Midlothian
Watermill Aggregates, Fraserburgh
WRG Waste Services, Greengairs Landfill, Airdrie
Wyman Gordon metals plant, Livingston
At risk (24)
Aggregrate Industries, mobile plant
Albion Automotive, Glasgow
Bennetts Scotland car repairers, Lanarkshire
Bodychell Sand & Gravel cement plant, Fraserburgh
BVT Surface Fleet, Inchgreen Dry Dock, Greenock
Cransley First Broiler Farm, Liff, Dundee
D Geddes, Prettycur Landfill, Forfar
D Geddes, Ardownie Landfill, Monifieth
D Geddes Ltd, Border Quarry Landfill, Friockheim, Angus
Discovery Flexibles, Dundee
Geddes Group, Hatton Mill Landfill site, Friockheim, Angus
Hanson Quarry Products Europe, Airdrie
James Taylor & Son, Wellhill Farm, Forres, Moray
Mahle Engine Systems, Rickarton, Kilmarnock
Nationwide Car Repair Centre, Strathtay Rd, Perth
Nationwide Crash Repair Centres, Edinburgh
OSS Group, Bredisholm Refinery, Tannochside, Uddingston
Piramal Healthcare, Grangemouth
R & H Hay, Luncarty Poultry Farm, Turriff, Aberdeen
Richmond Coachworks, Glasgow
Specialist Glass Designs, Hawick
TOM vehicle rental, Airdrie
Vion Agricultural, Edinburgh
Walsh Bros waste transfer station, Alloa
Sepa’s pollution assessment
Assessment / total number of sites
Excellent / 702
Good / 241
Broadly compliant / 44
At risk / 24
Poor / 55
Very poor / 20
Excellent: “Sepa assesses the licence holder as fully compliant with licence conditions.”
Good: “Sepa assesses the licence holder as not quite fully compliant with licence conditions and highlights one or two areas for improvement to achieve excellent.”
Broadly compliant: “Sepa assesses the licence holder as broadly compliant with licence conditions but highlights several areas for improvement.
At risk: “No breach of environmental limit conditions identified, however low management performance indicates risk of future breaches of environmental limit conditions.”
Poor: “Sepa assesses the licence holder as non-compliant or responsible for at least one significant breach.”
Very poor: “Significant non-compliance. Urgent improvement required across all areas.”source: Scottish Environment Protection Agency