Scotch whisky sector regulatory position

SEPA is committed to supporting everyone it regulates during the COVID-19 public health emergency, while maintaining protection of Scotland’s environment. This regulatory position is for the Scotch whisky sector to support the management of trade effluent related to shut down and start-up.

We recognise that during a significant outbreak of COVID-19 the ability of operators to run their operations may be compromised by a lack of available staff, and/or the need to protect staff and minimise transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

During this period, we expect regulated businesses to make their best endeavours to meet their environmental obligations and are helping regulated businesses to adjust and adapt recognising that resources and capacities are severely constrained.


This position relates to the shut down at short notice and potential start-up of Scotch Whisky production facilities as a consequence of COVID-19.

It specifically relates to the discharge of trade effluent to receiving waters authorised under a water use licence under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 in connection with the operation of Scotch Whisky production facilities. 

This position statement only applies to a single shut down period at each facility which occurs after the date of this position statement and a single start up period at each such facility after the date of this position statement, unless SEPA approves otherwise.


Scotch whisky sector regulatory position statement

Contact information

If you have any questions on this position statement, you can contact:

  1. Your trade association, Scotch Whisky Association or Malt Distillers Association of Scotland, as both have helped develop this position.
  2. Our offices are now closed but our people and online services are available to support you. You can continue to use your usual email route into SEPA and liaise with your regular Environmental Performance team contact. If they are not available or you are unsure of who to contact please use our online form to get in touch. Visit the ask us contact form.

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