A’Hearn steps down at SEPA after conduct allegations

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is keeping a tight rein on any information around the sudden departure of its chief executive, Terry A’Hearn, on Friday 21 January.

Terry A'Hearn has left the Scottish regulator, SEPA

Mr A’Hearn, who joined the regulatory organisation on 13 April 2015 from its Northern Irish counterpart, now works as a “self employed environmental specialist”.

A spokesperson for SEPA declined to say whether there was any ongoing investigation around the chief executive’s departure and instead referenced a formal statement from the organisation.

The statement, under the heading ‘Leadership arrangements’, says: “On Friday, 21st January 2022, Bob Downes, Chairman of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency confirmed that following conduct allegations, Terry A’Hearn has stepped down and left his position.”

Mr Downes said: “Following conduct allegations, Terry A’Hearn has stepped down and left his position. SEPA has a clear Code of Conduct and takes conduct allegations very seriously indeed. In order to protect anonymity, SEPA is unable to comment further.”

Recruitment for a new chief executive is to commence shortly, said Mr Downes. In the interim, chief officer Jo Green will be acting chief executive, supported by SEPA’s Agency management team.

Experience

According to SEPA, Mr A’Hearn has over 20 years’ experience in the environment profession, having held senior roles in Melbourne with the Environment Protection Authority in the Australian state of Victoria, in London with the global consulting firm WSP and, most recently, in Belfast as chief executive of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency before he joined SEPA.

According to an earlier post on SEPA’s website: “In all this work, Terry has strongly focused on bringing environmental and economic aims together, supporting business and social innovation and getting tougher with the worst environmental performers.

“Terry is a Senior Associate at the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, a member of the Advisory Board of the Global Footprint Network and a Fellow of the UK Institute of Directors.”

Transparency

At his last SEPA board meeting in November, Mr A’Hearn spoke of the latest developments in SEPA’s efforts to recover from the huge cyber attack it had been hit by (see letsrecycle.com story).

He highlighted an “increasing level of service delivery performance and the continued progress on logistical re-establishment.

“A key achievement was the public release of the cyber audit reports in late August.

“By releasing the reports, SEPA has met a very high standard in transparency regarding the lessons from a cyberattack.”

Mr A’Hearn continued: “Many external people and organisations have thanked us for this as it has helped them focus their own efforts on improving cyber resilience.

“We are using the release of the reports to ‘draw a line in the sand’ on the cyberattack and put it behind us as much as possible.

“It is also pleasing that staff engagement took place on the future of work, regenerative SEPA and COP26 among other issues.”

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