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Implementation of the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009: Annual Report to the Scottish Parliament - 2010

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Section A
River Basin Management Plan delivery

4. The first year

SEPA published River Basin Management Plans ( RBMPs) for the Scotland River Basin District and the Solway Tweed River Basin District in 2009. The RBMP measures will ensure that the right balance is struck between the protection of our water environment and wildlife, and the interests of those who depend upon these resources for their prosperity. Scotland already has 63 per cent of water bodies of good or better status, and the RBMPs aim to increase this to 97 per cent by 2027. The RBMPs are available at http://www.sepa.org.uk/water/river_basin_planning.aspx .

SEPA carries out an annual classification of water bodies to assess progress towards the objectives, identifying any shortfalls and taking remedial action. The table below shows the classification data for 2009 compared to 2008. As this is a long term programme it may be some years before significant improvements are reflected in the monitoring results.

RBD

% water bodies good status or better

2008

2009

2015 (Target)

2027 (Target)

Scotland RBD

65

65

72

97

Solway Tweed RBD

50

51

58

89

Scotland (Total)

63

63

70

96

5. Area Management Plans and Area Advisory Groups

The ten Area Advisory Groups ( AAGs) have now published Area Management Plans ( AMPs), coordinating and promoting local actions and linking delivery of RBMP objectives with local environmental improvements across the three planning cycles. The AMPs provide an overview of the water environment, pressures, key measures, and objectives for each AAG area, and are complemented by action plans and catchment summaries. These are updated through the planning cycles, assisting with efficient local delivery of RBMP objectives, and are also available on the SEPA website.

Progress towards delivery

6. Diffuse pollution management

In 2010, the Diffuse Pollution Management Advisory Group ( DPMAG) published the first Scottish Rural Diffuse Pollution Plan. The Group continue to advise on a two-tier strategy - a national awareness raising campaign on rural diffuse pollution, and a focused approach in 14 priority catchments.

At a national level, a communications strategy has been developed. The Group has also been working to support RBMP delivery through closer alignment with the current Scotland Rural Development Programme, and is considering opportunities for the next programme.

The targeted approach in priority catchments has begun by raising the awareness of stakeholders and land managers, and with intensive catchment walking. This will be followed by a more comprehensive awareness raising initiative in catchments where the evidence base has already been established. The catchment walks will be completed in 2011.

7. Controlled Activities Regulations ( CAR) licensing

Through its CAR authorisation procedures, SEPA prevents deterioration of the water environment from new activities. SEPA issued a total of 3448 CAR authorisations in 2010:

SEPACAR AUTHORISATIONS 2010

Regime

Registration

Simple Licence

Complex Licence

Total

Point source discharges

2526

78

51

2655

Engineering

495

163

9

667

Water Resources
(abstraction & impoundment)

49

38

39

126

Total

3070

279

99

3448

SEPA's CAR review process reviews existing CAR authorisations to achieve environmental improvement. It applies to authorised point source discharges and water resource activities. SEPA reviews the environmental impacts from existing authorised sites, and identifies any mitigation measures necessary to deliver any required improvement.

Point Source Review

SEPA continues to work towards water environment improvement where it is impacted on by discharges through the Point Source Review process. This is largely delivered through Scottish Water's programme of capital investment.

Water Resource Review

When CAR was introduced, operators of existing abstractions and impoundments were required to apply to SEPA for authorisation. Around 2000 authorisations were made, with conditions reflecting existing practice. Improved monitoring has now enhanced SEPA's understanding of pressures on Scotland's water resources. SEPA has begun the process of reviews, and plans to review around 240 authorisations over the next 2 years.

8. Restoration

Restoration actions provide an opportunity to recognise multiple benefits across the water environment, which may include protecting communities from the risk of flooding. The SEPA managed Water Environment Restoration Fund is now in its third year, and has already funded a broad range of external projects across Scotland. A range of different types of organisations are leading the projects, with 44% being led by individual fisheries trusts. The Rivers and Fisheries Trusts ( RAFTS) umbrella organisation, together with SEPA, is leading strategic projects, delivering across broad areas of Scotland. The projects are summarised in the table below:

Water Environment Restoration Fund projects

Total projects currently active due for completion March 2011

40

Removal of physical barriers

11

Scoping barrier removal

4

Catchment restoration works

4

Scoping catchment or water body scale restoration

15

Removal of bank side habitat INNS at catchment/multiple catchment scale

5

A good example of a restoration project is the Barriers Removal Scoping Project. Artificial barriers impassable to fish are a significant pressure, causing less than good ecological status. This project aims to assess options for the removal or modification of barriers identified as causing such pressures. Site specific assessments will provide costed restoration options for phase two of the works programme. SEPA has drawn up a list of fourteen priority barriers for assessment in 2011 based on the affected catchment area and the extent of the impacts on fish migration.

In 2010, SEPA also commissioned SNIFFER to develop restoration plans for priority catchments in the Maltkiln Burn (Galloway Coastal priority catchment), River Dee, South Esk and North Ugie (Buchan Coastal priority catchment). SEPA, landowners and other stakeholders will be consulted on the plans. Suitable areas for restoration and development will be identified, assessing all options to develop specifications and details for the work.

9. Invasive Non-Native Species ( INNS)

SEPA has now developed an INNS management supplementary plan, ensuring that effective processes are in place to implement the RBMPs. The plan will improve transparency and clarify links between existing processes. It will ensure that the roles and responsibilities for assessment and management are shared between the organisations concerned, and effectively coordinate work and resources.

10. Water shortage management planning

We are in the process of introducing measures which we consider proportionate to the relatively low level of water shortage risk in Scotland. The 2010 Scottish Government consultation The Water Environment (Controlled Activities)(Scotland) Regulations 2005 - Improving Transparency and Effectiveness further develops plans for water shortage management. It proposes that SEPA will develop plans for environmental measures required during a prolonged period of low rainfall, with a national plan setting out high level principles and actions, to manage water shortages supplemented by more detailed local action plans. The plans will include a series of steps to facilitate an appropriate response to possible water shortage situations.

11. Key projects

The Clyde Pilot Project ( CPP)

The CPP delivers multiple benefits and is funded, developed and managed jointly by SEPA and the Glasgow Clyde Valley Green Network ( GCVGN) Partnership. The Partnership aims to shape the integration of green and urban infrastructure by influencing the planning for, and management of, urban waters in a sustainable manner.

The project looked at how habitat networks could be enhanced by actions that would also deliver wider improvements to the quality of the water environment. The project also examined areas where coincident benefits for flood management could be delivered, for instance through floodplain restoration. The final reports were published in 2010, and detail a national methodology for identifying opportunity areas, with case studies showing a wide range of mechanisms for delivering improvements. The reports can be found at -
http://www.sepa.org.uk/water/river_basin_planning/area_advisory_groups/clyde.aspx

Funding of £20,000 was secured in 2010 from Central Scotland Green Network ( CSGN) to work up four opportunity areas identified during the Clyde Pilot Study. A sub-group of the Clyde AAG is taking this project forward, and partners include Local Authorities, SNH, Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network, Central Scotland Green Network, Clyde Rivers Foundation and SEPA. Consultants are working on detailed project outlines for the four sites, identifying how to deliver multiple benefits. The aim is to provide 'off the shelf' projects that can attract funding and deliver environmental improvements in the water bodies.

The CPP approach is also being taken forward in the South East Scotland Structure ( SES) plan area with the key partners of SEPA, Forestry Commission Scotland, SNH and Forest Research driving the work. The project will apply the screening methodology to the area and identify potential opportunity areas for use in the development planning process.