Making a complaint about ESS

Environmental Standards Scotland is committed to delivering the highest standards of public administration. We value complaints and will use information from them to help us to deliver and sustain improvements in our administrative processes.

If you are dissatisfied with our service, please tell us. This Complaints Policy describes our complaints procedure and how to make a complaint. It also tells you about our complaints service standards and what you can expect from us.

What is a complaint?

We regard a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us.

We will not treat as complaints any requests for information about, or comments about the content of, any of our reports, forecasts or assessments carried out and/ or published under our statutory functions and remit.

What can I complain about?

You can complain about matters such as:

  • failure to follow administrative process
  • treatment by, or attitude of, a member of  Environmental Standards Scotland’s staff

Your complaint may involve more than one aspect of our service.

What can’t I complain about?

Matters that we cannot deal with through our complaints handling procedure include:

  • requests for information about Environmental Standards Scotland, including media enquiries
  • requests for information about, or comments on the content of, any of our reports, forecasts or assessments carried out and/ or published under our statutory functions and remit. This includes information about, or comments on, methodologies used by us, judgements made by us, or factors which have been taken into account including assumptions made by us and the risks which we have considered to be relevant in the preparation of our reports, forecasts and assessments. If you are looking for further information on these matters, please contact us and we will be happy to help
  • attempts to reopen a previously concluded complaint about Environmental Standards Scotland or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision

Who can complain?

Anyone can make a complaint to us, including the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service. We will require proof that consent has been given if someone else is complaining on their behalf.

How can I complain?

You can complain to us over the phone, in writing or by email.

It is easier for us to resolve complaints if you make them quickly and directly to the service concerned. So please talk to a member of staff at the service you are complaining about.

When complaining, please tell us:

  • your full name and contact details (postal or email address)
  • as much as you can about your complaint
  • what has gone wrong
  • how you want us to resolve the matter

How long do I have to make a complaint?

Normally, you must make your complaint within three months of:

  • the event you want to complain about
  • finding out that you have reason to complain, but no longer than 12 months after the event itself

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you consider that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.

How do I make a complaint?

You can make your complaint in writing, email or telephone to:

What happens when I have complained?

We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint. Our complaints procedure has two stages.

Stage One: Frontline Resolution

We will always try to resolve complaints as quickly as possible and aim to give you our Stage One decision within five working days or less.  This might mean an explanation and on-the-spot apology is given or immediate action is taken to fix the problem.

If we cannot resolve your complaint at this stage, we will explain why.  If you are unhappy with our response, you can ask us to consider your complaint at Stage Two. You may choose either to do this immediately or after you receive our initial decision.

Stage Two: Investigation

Stage Two deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at Stage One, and those that are complex and require further investigation. In  Stage Two we will:

  • acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days
  • where necessary, discuss your complaint with you to understand why you remain dissatisfied and what outcome you are looking for
  • give you a full response to the complaint as soon as possible and within 20 working days

However, if our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will tell you and agree a revised time scale with you, and keep you updated on progress.

Please note: if your complaint is received after 3pm, day one of the complaints process will be the following working day (excluding weekends, strike days, and public holidays).

What if I’m still dissatisfied?

After we have fully investigated, if you are still dissatisfied with our decision or with the way we have dealt with your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to look at it.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman cannot look at:

  • a complaint that has not completed our complaints procedure (so please make sure that it has done so before contacting the Ombudsman)
  • events that happened, or that you became aware of, more than 12 months ago
  • a matter that has been or is being considered in Court

Contacting the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman

  • In person: Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, Bridgeside House, 99 McDonald Road, Edinburgh EH7 4NS
  • By post: Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, Bridgeside House, 99 McDonald Road, Edinburgh EH7 4NS
  • If you would like to request a Freepost envelope, please contact the SPSO on 0800 377 7330 or via the SPSO contact form
  • Freephone: 0800 377 7330
  • Online contact:
  • Website:

Getting help to make your complaint

We understand that you may be unable, or reluctant, to make a complaint yourself. We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service. We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, if you have given them consent to complain for you.

You can find out about advocates in your area by contacting the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance:

We are committed to making our service easy to use for all members of the community. In line with our statutory equalities duties, we will always ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help people to access and use our services. If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing, or want this information in another language or format, such as large font, or Braille, email us at:

This complaints policy was last updated on 13 February 2024.

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