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River Basin Management Planning Framework

River Basin Management Planning framework

An integrated framework for the protection and improvement of Scotland’s water environment has been developed using a range of regulatory, voluntary and economic mechanisms.

Overarching legal framework

The core requirements of the Water Framework Directive were introduced by the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003. Certain aspects of river basin management planning were further elaborated in the Water Environment (River Basin Management Planning: Further Provision) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 and the Cross-Border River Basin Districts (Scotland) Directions 2014.

Environmental standards and classification of status

Ministers have issued Directions to SEPA on a range of technical matters.


These Directions establish a framework of environment standards which define the range of environmental conditions that together support healthy aquatic life in our water bodies, and which are then used as the basis for regulatory decisions by SEPA. The standards also help classify the current status of our water bodies as high, good, moderate, poor or bad; and as such inform the improvement actions we need to take to achieve the objectives set out in the River Basin Management Plans.

These instruments also deliver the requirements of the Groundwater Directive and the Priority Substances Directive.

The Scottish Government published an associated policy statement on the use of environmental standards, condition limits and classification schemes in August 2014.

Chemical analysis

The Scottish Government issued a Direction to SEPA on 24th June 2011 regarding the chemical analysis and monitoring of water status requirements in the Scotland and Solway Tweed River Basin Districts in relation to Commission Directive 2009/90/EC.