4. General Binding Rules 3-17 - Proposed Amendments
The suite of general binding rules ( GBRs) at Schedule 3 of CAR has been developed over time to reflect our increasing understanding of certain activities and the effect these can have on Scotland's water environment. GBRs 1-11 were introduced with the original CAR in 2005, and these dealt with a broad range of activities relating to impoundments, abstractions, engineering works and activities liable to cause pollution. GBRs 12-17 were subsequently introduced in 2007, expanding the original range of activities.
These GBRs are reviewed from time to time in the light of our growing experience. We now propose some further amendments to some of these GBRs, reflecting our increased understanding of certain environmental impacts and clarifying exactly where and how the rules apply.
The proposed amendments for each GBR are set out in more detail below. For ease of understanding, the full text of each GBR is set out below with the proposed revisions highlighted.
4.1 General Binding Rule 3
Amendment to the definition of activity
It has been identified that the ongoing operation of boreholes carries a potential risk to contamination of groundwater and should be brought within the scope of the GBR.
The proposed amendment to the definition of Activity 3 is intended to clarify that the GBR provides authorisation for both the construction and the on-going operation of a well or borehole.
Amendment to rule (a)
Proposed amendment to include 'and operation'
Amendment to rule (d)
Proposed amendment is to clarify the requirement for wells and boreholes which are no longer operational.
Additional rule (e)
The proposed addition of rule (e) is intended to make clear that authorisation under GBR is limited to boreholes drilled to 200 metres. On account of the risk of connecting fresh groundwater with deeper, saline groundwater, SEPA currently requires authorisation by licence for boreholes drilled to depths greater than 200 metres; and this change reflects that existing practice.
3. The construction, extension or operation of any well, borehole or other works by which water may be abstracted, if such works are:
(a) not intended for the purpose of abstraction;
(b) intended for the abstraction of less than 10 m³ of water in any one day;
(c) intended for the abstraction of less than 150 m³ of water in any period of one year, and the purpose of the abstraction is either-
(i) to test for the yield of the borehole or well or the hydraulic properties of the aquifer; or
(ii) to sample the water quality;
(d) intended to dewater one or more excavations at-
(i) a construction site for roads, buildings, pipelines, or other built developments; or
(ii) a site at which the maintenance of such developments is being undertaken; or
(e) intended for the purpose of undertaking activity 17.
Rules(a) subject to paragraphs (c) and (d), the construction and operation of the well or borehole must be such as to avoid the entry of pollutants or water of a different chemical composition into any body of groundwater;
(b) drilling fluids may be introduced into the well or borehole if necessary to facilitate the drilling of the well or borehole provided this does not result in pollution of the water environment;(c) potable water may be introduced into the well or borehole to test the hydraulic properties of the aquifer;
(d) when the well or borehole is no longer required, it must be back filled or sealed to the extent necessary to avoid loss of groundwater from any aquifer and to avoid the entry of pollutants or water of a different chemical composition into any body of groundwater; and(e) the depth of the well or borehole beneath the surface of the ground must not exceed 200 metres.
4.2 General Binding Rule 9
Amendment of activity
The proposed amendment to the definition of the activity allows the GBR to authorise the operation of vehicles in the water environment when required for the purposes of carrying out any other GBR-level activity or carrying out activities for which SEPA does not require authorisation under regulation 7 or 8 (registration or licence), such as maintenance works.
Amendment to rule (b), (c), and (e)
The proposed amendments to rules (b), (c) and (e) are intended to clarify, and bring consistency, as to how distances from surface waters are to be measured for the purpose of compliance with the GBR.
Addition of rule (i)
The proposed addition is to ensure that any damage caused to the bed and banks of the river or loch caused by the operation of the vehicle, plant or other equipment is repaired and the banks reinstated once the operations are complete.
9. Operating any vehicle, plant or equipment in or near a watercourse, loch, transitional water or coastal water for the purpose of undertaking any other activity specified in this schedule or for the purpose of maintaining an existing man-made structure in, or near, a watercourse, loch, transitional water or coastal water.
(a) Any vehicles, plant or other equipment must only operate in water where it is impracticable for them to operate on dry land;
(b) the refuelling of vehicles, plant or other equipment must be undertaken at least 10 metres from any river, burn, ditch or loch, as measured from the top of the bank; at least 10 metres from any wetland; and at least 10 metres from any transitional water or coastal water, as measured from the shoreline;
(c) any static plant or equipment used within 10 metres of any river, burn, ditch or loch, as measured from the top of the bank; within 10 metres of any wetland; or within 10 metres of any transitional water or coastal water, as measured from the shoreline, must be positioned on a suitably sized and maintained impervious drip tray with a capacity equal to 110% of the capacity of the fuel tank which is supplying the tank or equipment;
(d) any vehicle, plant or other equipment used in or near surface water must not leak any oil;
(e) the washing of vehicles, plant or other equipment must be undertaken at least 10 metres from any river, burn, ditch or loch, as measured from the top of the bank; at least 10 metres from any wetland; and at least 10 metres from any transitional water or coastal water, as measured from the shoreline, and water from such washing must not enter any surface water;
(f) vehicles, plant or other equipment must not be operated in a river, burn or ditch during periods in which fish are likely to be spawning in the river, burn or ditch nor during the period between any such spawning and the subsequent emergence of the juvenile fish;
(g) vehicles, plant or equipment must not be operated in any part of a river, burn or ditch if there is a reasonable likelihood that, within 50 metres of such an operation, there are freshwater pearl mussels; and
(h) during forestry operations the operator must not operate machinery in watercourses.
(i) following the operation of the vehicle, plant or other machinery, any damage caused by the operation to the bed and banks of the watercourse or loch must be repaired. This must include re-establishing vegetation on any areas of bare earth on the banks resulting from the operation, either by covering the areas with grass turfs or lining them with a biodegradable geotextile and seeding.
4.3 General Binding Rule 10
Amendment of activity
The proposed amendments to the activity are intended to clarify the scale of activity that can be authorised under GBRs versus those that require authorisation under regulation 7 or 8 of CAR (registration or licence). This ensures that, for higher risk sites, SEPA can check that a suitable management plan is in place to manage pollution risks.
Part (a) sets out in more detail the areas where drainage is authorised under the GBR. Part (b) clarifies that the activity covers all water run-off from construction sites. Any water run-off discharging to the water environment from a construction site must only be made via a SUD system or equivalent.
Amendment to rule (b)
The proposed amendment is intended to help clarify that the discharge does not have to be of trade effluent or sewage for the second part of the rule to apply.
Amendment to rule (e)
The proposed amendment is intended to provide that each of (i), (ii) and (iii) should apply to areas constructed after 1 April 2007.
Additional rule (f)
The proposed additional rule (f) is intended to ensure that parts of construction sites likely to generate polluted run-off are drained by a surface water drainage system.
10 (a) Discharge of water run-off from a surface water drainage system to the water environment from:
(i) up to 60 hectares of land used for residential premises;
(ii) land used for non-residential premises or yards, except where the buildings or yards are in an industrial estate;
(iii) land used as a motorised vehicle parking area with up to 1,000 parking spaces;
(iv) metalled roads other than motorways and A roads;
(v) waterbound roads and tracks
(b) discharge of water run-off to the water environment from a construction site where the site, including any constructed access tracks:
(i) has an area of less than 4 hectares;
(ii) has a road or track length of less than 5 km; or
(iii) does not include any area of more than 1 hectare or any length of more than 500 metres on ground with a slope in excess of 25°.
(a) All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the discharge does not result in pollution of the water environment;
(b) the discharge must not:
(i) contain any trade effluent or sewage; or
(ii) result in visible discolouration, iridescence, foaming or growth of sewage fungus in the water environment;
(c) the discharge must not result in the destabilisation of the banks or bed of the receiving surface water;
(d) the discharge must not contain any water run-off from any built developments, the construction of which is completed after 1st April 2007, or from construction sites operated after 1st April 2007, unless-
(i) during construction those developments are drained by a SUD system, or equivalent system, equipped to avoid pollution of the water environment;
(ii) following construction those developments are drained by a SUD system equipped to avoid pollution of the water environment;
(iii) the run-off is from a development that is a single dwelling and its curtilage; or
(iv) the discharge is to coastal water;
(e) the discharge must not contain any water run-off from;
(i) any fuel delivery areas constructed after 1st April 2007, or any areas constructed after 1st April 2007 where vehicles, plant and equipment are refuelled;
(ii) vehicle loading or unloading bays constructed after 1st April 2007 where potentially polluting matter is handled; or
(iii) oil and chemical storage, handling and delivery areas constructed after 1st April 2007;
(f) from [coming into force date], in relation only to activity 10(b), all parts of a new construction site on which any works are to be undertaken or on which any construction vehicles are to be operated or parked must be drained by a surface water drainage system with capacity to accommodate the maximum volume of run-off that would be reasonably expected to occur from that land on any occasion during the period of construction;
(g) all facilities with which the surface water drainage system is equipped to avoid pollution, including oil interceptors, silt traps and SUD system attenuation, settlement and treatment facilities, must be maintained in a good state of repair; and
(h) all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that any matter liable to block, obstruct, or otherwise impair the ability of the surface water drainage system to avoid pollution of the water environment is prevented from entering the drainage system.
4.4 General Binding Rule 11
Amendment to rule (d)
The intention of the proposed amendment is to ensure that it is the area of, and time for which, soil is exposed that must be minimised.
11. Discharge into a surface water drainage system
(a) Oil, paint, paint thinners, pesticides, detergents, disinfectants or other pollutants must not be disposed of into a surface water drainage system or onto any surface that drains into a surface water drainage system;
(b) any matter liable to block, obstruct, or otherwise impair the ability of the surface water drainage system to avoid pollution of the water environment must not be disposed of into a surface water drainage system or onto a surface that drains into a surface water drainage system;
(c) sewage or trade effluent must not be discharged into any surface water drainage system; and
(d) on construction sites, any area of exposed soil from which the discharge of water run-off to the water environment is authorised under activity 10, and the period of time during which such soil is exposed, must be the minimum required to facilitate the construction works being undertaken at that site.
4.5 General Binding Rule 12
Amendments to rules
The proposed package of amendments to the activity 12 rules is designed to make the environmentally good practice of returning excavated sediment to rivers or burns the default.
Amendment to rule (a)
The proposed amendment is to clarify that sediment can only be removed in the 10 metres upstream of the weir.
Amendment to rules (c)-(g)
It is proposed to remove rules (c) to (g) and replace with new rules (c) to (h). The proposed amendments better clarify the requirements and, to increase flexibility, remove the current restriction that sediment be returned within 10 metres of the weir. The other conditions on the return of sediment are retained.
12. The removal of sediment or any other matter that may have been deposited on the bed of a river, burn or ditch in the area of impounded water upstream of a weir the operation of which is authorised under these Regulations and the return of that sediment to the river, burn or ditch from which it was removed.
(a) Sediment or other matter must only be removed within 10 metres upstream of the weir;
(b) the sediment or other matter removed must only include sediment or other matter that could reasonably be expected to have been deposited on the bed of the river, burn or ditch within a period of 3 years preceding the date of the removal;
(c) if it is reasonably practicable to do so in compliance with rules (d) and (f) below, the removed sediment must be placed at the edge of the river or burn downstream of the weir in such a way and at such a location that high river flows are able to cause it to be redistributed and transported by the river or burn;
(d) when placing sediment at the edge of a river or burn, the sediment must;
(i) not be placed in such a way or such a location as to result in an accumulation of sediment likely to impede the free passage of migratory fish;
(ii) not be placed in a wetted part of the river or burn during periods in which fish are likely to be spawning in that part of the river, burn or during the period between any such spawning and the subsequent emergence of the juvenile fish;
(iii) be placed in such a way and such a location that the risk of the placement resulting in increased erosion of the bed or banks of the river or burn is minimised; and
(iv) not contain man-made matter;
(e) removed sediment must not be deposited in the channel or on the banks of a river, burn or ditch except in accordance with rules (c), (d) and (f);
(f) the removal and placement of sediment must not result in pollution of the water environment;
(g) vegetation on any bank of the river, burn or ditch must be removed or modified only to the extent that the works cannot reasonably be carried out without such removal or modification; and
(h) any vegetation removed must not be disposed of into the channel.
4.6 General Binding Rule 13
There is no amendment to the content of activity or rules of GBR 13. The proposed amendment corrects a typing error by clarifying that previous rule (h)(iv) is a separate rule, (i), rather than a sub-set of rule (h)
4.7 General binding rule 15
In this GBR, rule (b) was intended to protect watercourses from temporary groundwater abstractions by limiting dewatering in geological settings where groundwater inputs to surface waters contributes significantly to maintaining river flows. The current rule is complex, not well understood and difficult to enforce. The revised wording of rule (b) provides equivalent protection using a simple stand-off distance.
Amendment to rule (a)
Proposed amendment to remove 'subject to paragraph b' as this no longer applies to the revised rule (b).
Amendment to rule (b)
Proposed revision of the wording of rule (b) to set a simplified exclusion zone.
15. The temporary abstraction of groundwater at-
(a) a construction site for roads, railways, buildings, pipelines, communication links or other built development; or
(b) a site at which the maintenance of such development is being undertaken;
by means of-
(i) pumping the groundwater directly from any excavation or excavations on the site; or
(ii) pumping the groundwater from any wells or boreholes on the site in order to help dewater any other excavation or excavations on the site;
and, if desired, the subsequent discharge of the abstracted groundwater to the water environment.
(a) groundwater may only be abstracted at the site within a period of 180 days beginning with the first day on which groundwater is abstracted at the site;
(b) groundwater must not be abstracted from any excavations, wells or boreholes that are within 250 metres of a watercourse or loch unless the abstracted water is discharged into the watercourse or loch at the nearest part of the watercourse or loch to the point of abstraction and in accordance with paragraph (f);
(c) groundwater must not be abstracted from any excavations, wells or boreholes that are within 250 metres of a wetland;
(d) groundwater must not be abstracted from any excavations, wells or boreholes that are within 250 metres of an abstraction that is not for the sole purpose of dewatering an excavation;
(e) all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the quantity of sediment in any abstracted water is minimised; and
(f) if the abstracted groundwater and, if it is pumped directly from an excavation, any precipitation or water run-off that has also collected in the excavation, is discharged to the water environment, it must be via a surface water drainage system authorised under these Regulations and with the consent of the person having operational control of the system.
4.8 General Binding Rule 17
SEPA recently consulted on requirements relating to geothermal abstractions. This has resulted in proposed amendments to the general binding rule on geothermal abstractions.
Amendment of activity
The scope of activities authorised under GBR 17 has been widened to include the abstraction and subsequent return of groundwater as part of a cooling system.
Amendment of rule (a)
The proposed amendments to rule (a) are:
(i) the inclusion of 'part of', which ensures the return of abstracted water to the same part of the geological formation from which it was abstracted. This minimises the risk of any adverse impact on another area of groundwater.
(ii) a reference to 'mine workings' has also been added in rule (a). Returning water abstracted from mine workings to underground strata not affected by mining could result in the transfer of polluted water into good quality groundwater resources.
Amendment of rule (c)
Proposed amendment to clarify that pollutants must not be added to the abstracted water before its return. Previously, the rule had been that the "chemical quality" of the water must not be altered.
Addition of rule (f)
Proposed addition of rule (f) to ensure geothermal abstractions do not take place next to other abstractions in ways that could reduce the availability of supply for neighbouring abstractions.
17. The abstraction and subsequent return of groundwater for the purpose of extracting geothermal energy from the abstracted water or for the purpose of transferring heat to geological formations as part of a cooling system.
(a) The abstracted water must be returned to the same part of the geological formation or the mine workings from which it was abstracted;
(b) any volume of water may be abstracted but the volume of water abstracted and not returned must not exceed 10 m 3 per day;
(c) no pollutants may be added to, or otherwise allowed to enter, the abstracted water prior to its return to the geological formation;
(d) there must be a means of demonstrating that the net abstraction is not more than 10 m3 in any one day;
(e) water leakage must be kept to a minimum by ensuring that all pipe work, storage tanks and other equipment associated with the abstraction and use of the water are maintained in a good state of repair; and
(f) the activity must not be located within 250 metres of any abstraction of water intended for human consumption and must not adversely affect any other water abstractions.