The Chief Officers from five agencies (SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage, Communities Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise) met during December to discuss the Scottish Executive’s sustainable development strategy and to identify ways in which they could collaborate to advance sustainable development within their own agencies and with the people and organisations with whom they come into contact.

Over the past year the agencies have collaborated on a variety of projects including providing peer review of actions and approaches, development of scenarios of sustainable development in Scotland to 2020, research into the business benefits of supporting biodiversity and projects aimed at exploring the business risks of climate change in Scotland. The agencies have agreed a work plan for the coming years that will strengthen the relationships already established and contribute to the Scottish Executive sustainable development strategy.

E Tax Depreciation Schedules along with SNH, as joint Competent Environmental Authorities, continued to influence delivery of the 2000–2006 EU structural fund programmes in Scotland through its representation on many of the decision-making committees responsible for allocating fund monies. As the current programme period comes to an end, SEPA has begun to shift its focus to influence planning and delivery of the 2007–2013 programme which is currently being prepared by the Scottish Executive. SEPA presented oral and written evidence to the Scottish Parliament Communities Committee on The Planning etc. These provide a framework for introducing greater clarity and consistency of both managerial and specialist roles in SEPA which in turn will increase SEPA’s effectiveness.

One of the main aims of organisational change is to develop a simpler, affordable and more manageable grading and pay system. A new job evaluation scheme has been under development over the last year to support the development of the new grading structure. Outline proposals, ready for consultation with the trade union, have also been developed for the new pay system. SEPA has also been working to promote positive culture change, to ensure that all staff understand the reasons for change and to engage managers in implementing change.