Scottish Environment Protection Agency announces Nicole Paterson as next Chief Executive

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) announced on Thursday 7 July, the appointment of Nicole Paterson as its next Chief Executive.

Nicole, who joins the agency in October, is an award-winning local government Chief Officer, with nearly thirty-years’ experience across five local authorities, consultancy, and environmental non-executive roles; leading operational, regulatory and strategic environmental services.

With more than twenty-five-years’ experience in local government specifically, Ms. Paterson joins from North Lanarkshire Council, Scotland’s fourth largest local authority, where her role as Head of Environmental Assets saw her drive a strategic vision of community focused, inclusive growth and prosperity.  She led systemic change on climate change adaption, biodiversity, flood risk management, transport policy, planning and green spaces.

Nicole previously spent over a decade at Stirling Council leading strategic environmental and infrastructure programmes and has worked across West Lothian, East Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute Councils.  She is a Board Member of Climate Ready Clyde, working with industry and government, and Chair of the Glasgow City Region Transport Portfolio leading strategic transport visioning.  A Chartered civil engineer and University of Strathclyde graduate, Nicole is a member of 7 Lochs Wetland Park and previously the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative.

The appointment followed an open recruitment process which attracted a broad and diverse range of applications from across Scotland, the UK and Europe.

Announcing the appointment, Bob Downes, SEPA Chair, said:

“As Scotland’s environmental watchdog, SEPA plays a key role in Scottish public life, protecting, adapting, and supporting our transition to a net zero economy.  We’ve got a great team of multi-skilled professionals dedicated to our rich and diverse environment.  They deserve the very best leadership and I’m delighted that in Nicole, we’ve found an optimistic, energetic leader who’s as passionate about Scotland’s environment, our statutory purpose and delivering modern, effective and essential public services as we are.  But more than that, we’ve found in Nicole an open, supportive and motivational leader committed to collaboration, outcomes, excellence and building an agency reflective of the country we serve.

Commenting on her appointment, Nicole added:

“Scotland’s stunning environment, its lochs and its land, are world-renowned, and being trusted to protect them for future generations, while supporting our nation to adapt to a changing climate, is a privilege.  Protecting our environment, inclusion, wellbeing and supporting sustainable growth are not only key to my personal and professional beliefs, they’re at the heart of SEPA’s statutory purpose.   They’re fundamental to SEPA’s One Planet Prosperity strategy and the work that its people deliver each and every day in communities the length and breadth of our country.

“Across my career, from working with the Board of Climate Ready Clyde to Argyll and Bute Council, I’ve been constantly inspired by SEPA’s role in improving Scotland’s environment, its commitment to collaboration and the professionalism and commitment of its people.  Over the coming months I look forward to visiting, meeting with and listening to people, partners and stakeholders across the country as together we deliver for Scotland’s environment.”

Mr. Downes recognised and thanked Acting Chief Executive, Jo Green and Agency Management Team colleagues for their leadership following the departure of the previous Chief Executive, delivering an annual operating plan and supporting and empowering delivery and performance.  Jo Green will continue as Acting Chief Executive until Ms. Paterson assumes responsibilities in October.



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