We are responsible for developing the policy and regulatory framework for the protection and improvement of Scotland's water environment. The ways in which we do this are set out below.
River basin management plans
We set out our objectives and action programmes for protecting and improving Scotland's water environment in River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs), which the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) produces on our behalf every six years.
The current river basin management plans for 2021 to 2027 are hosted on SEPA's website. There are two RBMPs, one for the Scotland river basin district (RBD) and one prepared jointly with the Environment Agency for the cross-border Solway Tweed RBD. View maps and further information on Scotland's RBDs.
The central target of our current RBMPs is for 81% of water bodies to reach 'good' status by 2027.
Each year we provide SEPA with a grant from the Water Environment Fund (WEF) to support their work to deliver the RBMPs.
SEPA's website also provides:
We establish environmental standards for Scotland through Directions, which define the environmental conditions that support healthy aquatic life in water bodies.
SEPA uses these standards as the basis for its regulatory decisions. The standards also help to classify the current status of our water bodies as high, good, moderate, poor or bad.
These classifications inform the actions we need to take to achieve our objectives for the protection of Scotland's water environment.
We have published:
- a full list of water environment legislation including Directions issued to SEPA
- guidance for SEPA on assessing Scotland's water environment: use of environmental standards, condition limits and classification schemes
The policy statements listed below provide further information on how we are implementing water environment legislation:
- Considering third party representations in connection with applications under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) Regulations 2005 (2006)
- Balancing the benefits of renewables generation and protection of the water environment (2010)
- Implementing the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003: use of CAR 2011 emergency provisions (2011)
- delivering appropriate rural wastewater treatment (2012)
- supporting aquaculture growth and protecting the water environment (2017)