WE can today reveal the top sites across Scotland that have been officially deemed "unsatisfactory" on pollution by Scotland's environmental watchdog. 

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) damned the performance of more than 400 sites including Trump Turnberry, Ineos, and Faslane nuclear base.

Overall more than 30 sites were rated as “very poor”, around 240 as “poor” and 150 as “at risk” of breaching environmental rules in 2019. Over 40 sites have been assessed as unsatisfactory – either very poor, poor or at risk – for the last four years running.

Sepa assessed the environmental performance of two big oil companies, ExxonMobil and Ineos, as “very poor” in 2019. A Grangemouth chemical plant and a Coupar Angus chicken processor were rated as “poor”. 

Four of Scotland’s airports were similarly condemned, along with a Glasgow crematorium and sewage sludge plant, a Dunbar cement works, the Faslane nuclear base on the Clyde and the Trump Turnberry golf resort in Ayrshire.

View the top sites damned by SEPA in this interactive map:

READ MORE: Leaked data reveals over 40 fish firms 'unsatisfactory' over environmental breaches

A poor rating means that rules designed to protect the environment have been broken. The breaches include noisy and polluting gas flares, bad smells, hazardous chemical discharges, spreading clouds of dust, contaminating or overusing water and inadequate record-keeping.

Also branded as unsatisfactory by Sepa for 2019 were seven whisky distilleries, some 30 land farms, 40 fish farms and 60 waste sites. Numerous other sites were criticised, including paper mills, hotels, golf courses, caravan parks, hydro schemes, care homes and breweries.

Sepa usually conducts environmental compliance assessments of around 5,000 sites across Scotland every year. Publication of the results for 2019, however, has been repeatedly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and a Christmas 2020 cyber attack on the environmental agency.

After the cyber attack — said to have been launched by an international criminal gang — a detailed spreadsheet showing draft results for 2019 was posted online. This information has been analysed, checked and independently verified by The Ferret.

Sepa abandoned full site assessments in 2020 because of the restrictions resulting from Covid-19 lockdowns. But it is planning to publish a report on compliance in 2020, along with its delayed 2019 assessments, before Christmas.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency stressed that environmental compliance was “non-negotiable”. It pointed out that overall compliance had been over 90 per cent for four years to 2018.

“Sepa is firmly focussed on getting all remaining businesses to compliance, whilst supporting as many as possible to innovate and go even further,” said a spokesperson for the agency.

“We do not comment on stolen information, illegally published by likely international serious and organised criminals, and we are unable to confirm data until published.”

How Green is Scotland? is a week-long series for The Herald by The Ferret, an award-winning investigative journalism platform in Scotland.

It is an editorially independent, not-for-profit co-operative run by its journalists and members. You can join for £3 a month here.

READ IN FULL: Scotland's big-name polluters named-and-shamed as leaked report damns 400 sites