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21 July 2021

SEPA and Robertson join up to help build Scotland’s greener future

SEPA has formed a three-year partnership with Robertson to support green recovery and help transform the construction of public and private sector projects across the country.

Scotland's environmental regulator has formed a three-year partnership with one of the largest family-owned construction, housing, infrastructure and support services businesses in the UK to support green recovery and help transform the construction of public and private sector projects across the country.

The Sustainable Growth Agreement (SGA) between the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Robertson is the first in Scotland to focus on environmental performance across an entire supply chain and will mean both organisations can evolve new and innovative processes around supply chain engagement and development.

Robertson has a wide and varied supply chain of suppliers and sub-contractors covering all elements of the built environment in Scotland, and the wider UK. Having recently been verified as 'carbon neutral' by One Carbon World, Robertson will continue to champion the environment with its supply chain by setting clear benchmarks, enhancing awareness and knowledge, and increasing environmental performance.

The partnership will help amplify support for the businesses in the Robertson supply chain to meet their environmental obligations and encourage them to move beyond compliance by supporting the transition to a circular net zero economy, creating a sector where water, energy and materials are managed efficiently and carbon emissions are reduced - creating places where businesses, communities and nature can prosper within the resources of one planet.

Terry A'Hearn, SEPA's Chief Executive, said:

"In 2018 I challenged Scotland's business leaders to face up to the scale of the environmental challenge facing us. I explained that onlygreat leaders would understand that it is an opportunity for their businesses and organisations to help solve - it while creating economic success.

"That's why I'm delighted that we have signed a Sustainable Growth Agreement with Robertson, a company that not only has great leaders as my fellow signatories – but is a great leader in its sector. This is the first agreement between SEPA and a tier 1 construction, housing, infrastructure and support services business and it creates a real opportunity to communicate the aspirations, challenges and opportunities for environmental performance in Scotland to a wide audience.

"The eyes of the world will be on Scotland this year in the run up to COP26. They'll see a country that has already committed to being a world leader in addressing climate change, that is already taking ambitious steps to drive a low carbon economy and that is committed to creating new opportunities for a stronger and more inclusive economy and society. But we can do more and we need even more great leaders to have the leadership, the courage and the vision to see the opportunity and take it. I hope our SGA with Robertson will inspire others to answer the call as well."

Elliot Robertson, Robertson Group's, Chief Executive Officer, said:

"At Robertson we fully recognise the role that we play in assuring a sustainable future. We have worked closely with SEPA for a number of years and we are proud to formalise and build upon our relationship through the signing of the SGA.

"For a number of years now we have been committed to understanding and reducing the impact that our operations can have. As part of our 2030 Responsible Business Strategy we have set ambitious goals and we are confident that the work that we will do through the partnership will help achieve these with the support of our supply chain.

"We are confident that this agreement will have a positive impact on our operations and we look forward to facing the challenges ahead and to being part of the delivery of an inclusive net zero society."

John Low, Robertson Residential Group's, Chief Executive Officer, said:

"The partnership underpins the commitment across Robertson to take a lead in making positive change for the benefit of our environment, our communities and our economy.

"By bringing our supply chain on this journey with us, we have the opportunity to influence other sectors through the activities that will be delivered."

SEPA regulates activities undertaken by a number of businesses including construction companies, house builders, waste hauliers, industrial operators, product manufacturers and suppliers. Acting as a 'critical friend' Robertson will highlight any systemic issues associated with meeting environmental regulations so that action can be taken to tackle them before they result in environmental harm or a licence breach.

Any opportunities identified to help upskill suppliers and sub-contractors to meet their environmental obligations, support them to do more for the environment and create opportunities that link business success with environmental success will also be shared.

The two organisations will also work together to:

  • undertake a joint review to help prioritise focus and actions in the supply chain;
  • pilot, review and share SEPA training content and guidance for the industry around environmental compliance and moving beyond;
  • explore new ways of identifying the suppliers and sub-contractors most in need of support, intervening to help support, but using compliance history to inform supply chain selection, and contractual compliance requirements to drive improvements.

This SGA is one of a series of such agreements the Scottish regulator has struck in recent years - with existing partnerships including the Leven Programme Partnership and the 2050 Climate Group. It will be reviewed after three years, with an opportunity to widen the scope to improve the environmental and sustainability performance of the supply chain during other phases of the building lifecycle.