Draft Scottish Marine Litter Strategy Consultation

Marine litter impacts on Scotland’s society, economy and marine environment. The draft strategy we consult on will aim to address the levels of marine litter present in our marine and coastal environment.

1. Introduction

1.1 Thank you for taking the time to consider this consultation paper. We would welcome your views on the proposed Vision, Strategic Directions and Option on ambition and delivery of a Scottish Marine Litter Strategy. More focused work on individual actions will be taken forward with stakeholders and the wider public.

1.2 This consultation considers litter specifically within the marine environment. The Scottish Government will consult on proposals to reduce litter as a whole in its National Litter Strategy.

1.3 A Strategic Environmental Assessment and partial Business Regulatory Impact Assessment will be published alongside this document at the consultations section of the Scottish Government website. These will be reviewed and, if necessary, updated for the final strategy.

1.4 Alternative formats or translations into other languages are available on request. Please contact:

Name: Nikki Milne

Address: Marine Scotland, Scottish Government, Area 1A-South, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ

E-mail: marinelitter@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

1.5 Please note that the closing date for the Marine Litter Strategy consultation is 27 September 2013.


1.6 Marine litter poses a number of problems across the economy, environment and society. These detrimental effects include ingestion and entanglement of wildlife as well as wider ecosystem deterioration, public health issues and impacts on aesthetics and a wide range of economic impacts across the raft of industries reliant on our coastal and marine environment.

1.7 During the Scottish Parliament's consideration of the Marine (Scotland) Act a commitment was given to develop a Marine Litter Strategy.

1.8 Scotland's Zero Waste Plan 6 sets out ambitious targets on waste, and action will contribute to the condition of the marine environment but litter in Scotland's seas can come from a range of sources - including beaches, rivers and landfill and other activities in Scotland, ships at sea inside or outside Scotland's seas and litter sourced from terrestrial activities in other countries and carried by currents. Reserved, devolved and international functions are part of the governance framework.

1.9 The Draft Marine Litter Strategy is supported by a research study 7 and a process of stakeholder engagement and aims to address the levels of marine litter present in Scotland's coastal and marine environment.

1.10 The Draft Strategy also provides an opportunity to build on current initiatives, make the overall effort a more coherent package and consider what additional work or interventions may be of value at the national level to enhance and take forward the overall aims of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, within the OSPAR Convention in the period 2010 - 2020.

Current Activity

1.11 A range of legislation and regulatory tools exist to inform and implement a Scottish Marine Litter Strategy from the international, European and National scales. These include, but are not limited to the:

  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 8 ;
  • European Marine Strategy Framework Directive 9 ;
  • European Directive on Port Reception Facilities for Ship-generated Waste and Cargo Residues 10 ;
  • Bathing Waters(Scotland) Regulations 2008 11 ;
  • EU Water Framework Directive 12
  • Environmental Protection Act (1990) 13 ;
  • Merchant Shipping (Port Waste Reception Facilities) Regulations 2003 14 ;
  • Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 15 . The management of litter, while not directly specified under the Act, may fall under the scope of marine planning;
  • The European Commission's Green Paper on plastic waste which encourages Member States to take legislative or non-legislative measures in order to strengthen re-use and the prevention, recycling and other recovery operations of waste.

1.12 The Marine (Scotland) Act includes proposals for a new system of marine planning including provisions for the co-ordination of plans covering the terrestrial and marine environment. The management of litter, while not directly specified under the Act, may fall under the scope of the marine planning and licensing regime. It is recognised that there is a limit, however, as the devolved powers for marine litter are limited to litter sourced from land. Scotland's approach to marine litter is dependent on decisions made in international fora, including the European Union and United Nations.

1.13 An International Conference on Prevention and Management of Marine Litter in European Seas was held in Berlin in April 2013. The Conference identified a number of priority actions for consideration 16 . The Draft Strategy will be updated to reflect the outcome of further discussions at an EU level and between OSPAR countries.

Current Marine Litter initiatives in Scotland

1.14 There are a number of initiatives aimed at reducing marine litter, raising awareness of the problem or changing behaviours e.g. The Local Authorities International Environmental Organisation's (known as KIMO), Fishing for Litter initiative that engages the support of the fishing industry in tackling marine litter by providing litter bags for fishermen to fill and deposit on the quayside for collection. The scheme is being adopted by an increasing number of vessels operating out of Scotland's designated landing ports. The Marine Conservation Society - Adopt a Beach and Beachwatch are coastal environmental initiatives involving local individuals, groups and communities in caring for their coastal environment.


Scottish Water Investment process

Scottish Water are responsible for providing water and waste water services to household customers and wholesale Licensed Providers. We are accountable to the Scottish Parliament. Scottish Ministers set the objectives and investment priorities that we must deliver within the funding allowed by the financial regulator, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, in a way that meets the requirements of our environmental regulator SEPA.

This is known as the Quality & Standards (Q&S) process and is carried out in defined investment periods. We are currently delivering the requirements of the Strategic Review investment programme that covers the period from 2010 - 2015 ( SR10) and are in the process of determine investment needs and priorities for the period 2015-2027 ( SR15).

To support the Scottish Government's objective of "A Greener Scotland", SEPA and Scottish Water have worked together to agree a list of asset improvements and investigations which will effectively deliver Scottish Water's obligations, ensure compliance with environmental legislation and provide environmental benefits.

To ensure that the environmental impacts and needs are fully understood before promoting investment at our assets we undertake a process of studies and, depending on the outcome of the studies, invest to deliver the most appropriate cost effective solution.

Wastewater Treatment Works ( WWTW) and Networks

Our sewerage system is designed to convey and treat human waste and waste water, however many items of litter are disposed of into the networks and these create operational and mechanical problems within our assets and sometimes aesthetic issues in the freshwater & marine environment. Screening of wastewater as it passes through the WWTW & network is a key part of the process to ensure removal and appropriate disposal of litter.

The network, WWTW and treatment process is designed to take a certain flow and types of wastewater based on the characteristics of the catchment. They are often open systems so, to ensure the WWTW is not overwhelmed due to storm water, or that wastewater backs up causing flooding within homes and business premises, it is essential to include Combined Sewer Overflows ( CSO) within the network.


Wastewater Treatment Works ( WWTW) and Networks continued

During storm conditions the CSO allows the mix of storm water and wastewater over a certain capacity to discharge both directly to the sea and also to rivers. CSO have been identified as one of the sources of Sewage Related Debris ( SRD). CSO that are having a detrimental impact on the environment or are not performing in compliance with appropriate standards are considered to be Unacceptable Intermittent Discharges ( UID). The challenge for Scottish Water is to identify UIDs, determine appropriate solutions and programme improvements as agreed with SEPA.

Investment to meet certain legislative drivers

When assessing the impact of storm overflows on the environment Scottish Water must consider many different drivers to ensure compliance with relevant legislation e.g. the Water Framework Directive ( WFD). Several of these drivers contribute to the overall management to reduce SRD impacting on the environment; in particular we consider the aesthetic (debris release) impact of an overflow operating under its assessment of compliance with the Urban Wastewater Treatment works Directive ( UWWTD).

Drivers informing investment to meet compliance with the previous Bathing Water Directive ( BWD) standards in investment periods 2002-2010; have also contributed to reducing SRD in the marine environment. Since 2010 the requirements of the revised BWD have driven studies to identify needs for future investment.

SR15 & Marine Litter Strategy ( MLS)

Scottish Water believes the requirements of the MLS are incorporated into the study programmes and our planned investment will develop appropriate solutions to ensure compliance with legislation such as the WFD & UWWTD and in doing so will support the delivery of the MLS.

Given the lack of a standard classification method, good quality data and understanding of the sources/pathways for SRD, Scottish Water's proposed approach is to focus on gathering a better understanding of known SRD hotspots. In addition we will undertake analysis of Marine Conservation Society data to assist in identifying SRD hotspots, adding to a better understanding of historical and planned improvements and helping to establish whether an asset screening problem exists.

1.15 At a local level, the Firth of Clyde Forum has prepared a report as the first step in developing a Marine Litter Strategy for the Firth of Clyde 17 and has developed Coastal Litter Management Guidelines for Duty Bodies. This is one of a number of local initiatives which may lead to similar approaches elsewhere in Scotland.

National Litter Strategy

1.16 The purpose of the National Litter Strategy is to significantly reduce the amount of litter to support clean, safe communities throughout Scotland by 2020. The Scottish Government will provide leadership that tackles behaviours which lead to people littering and flytipping; support landowners in delivering their clean up and recycling responsibilities; and support communities that want to take local action to clean their environment.

1.17 The National Litter Strategy reflects Scotland's Zero Waste Plan which sets out the Scottish Government's vision for a zero waste society. This vision describes a Scotland where all waste is seen as a resource; waste is minimised; valuable resources are not disposed of in landfills and most waste is sorted, leaving only limited amounts to be treated.

1.18 There is significant overlap with the Marine Litter Strategy - where marine litter is washed up on shore, or where land-based litter is washed out to sea.

diagram showing overlap of litter

1.19 An example of the interdependence of the strategies and plans is the work of Keep Scotland Beautiful which undertakes assessments and monitoring of beaches applying for the Blue Flag and Seaside Awards in Scotland and provides support to local authorities in their role tackling litter in public places. Keep Scotland Beautiful's Clean Up Scotland 18 campaign aims to build on the success of National Spring Clean by engaging up to one million people over 2013 and 2014 to help clean up Scotland of litter and mess. The Marine Litter Strategy will complement this activity and focus on marine and coastal issues.

Marine Strategy Framework Directive

1.20 The Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD) is a key driver for addressing the problem of marine and coastal litter. The Directive requires Member States to prepare national strategies to manage their seas to achieve Good Environmental Status ( GES) 19 by 2020. Major emphasis is placed on international cooperation.

Key requirements of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive:

  • An assessment of the current state of UK seas.
  • A detailed description of what GES means for UK waters, with a set of associated targets and indicators.

The two elements (above) form the UK Marine Strategy Part One 20 .

  • Establishment of a monitoring programme to measure progress toward Good Environmental Status by July 2014.
  • Establishment of a programme of measures for achieving Good Environmental Status by 2016.

1.21 The Directive defines GES in terms of 11 descriptors. Descriptor 10 requires litter to be a levels where they "properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environments".

1.22 A joint consultation between The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ( DEFRA) and the Devolved Administrations (the Welsh Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and Scottish Government) on the proposed implementation of the initial stages of MSFD (the initial assessment and determination of the characteristics of GES) closed on 18 June 2012.

1.23 The UK Government's response to the MSFD consultation, published in December 2012 21 , proposed that the target for marine litter on coastlines should be an "Overall reduction in the number of visible litter items within specific categories/types on coastlines from 2010 levels by 2020". This objective recognises the limitations in data currently available to support a target for a specific percentage reduction in coastal litter and, based on current expert advice, has been included in the UK's set of GES targets. The objective is well-aligned with that put forward by other Member States, in terms of ambition and being qualitative in nature, and recognises the limitations in data currently available.

Table 1: Marine Strategy Part One - December 2012

GES characteristics and associated targets for Descriptor 10 22

GES characteristics for marine litter

Characteristics of GES for Descriptor 10 (marine litter)

The draft UK characteristics of GES for the Descriptor are as follows:

The amount of litter, and its degradation products, on coastlines and in the marine environment is reducing over time and levels do not pose a significant risk to the coastal and marine environment, either as a result of direct mortality such as through entanglement, or by way of indirect impacts such as reduced fecundity or bioaccumulation of contaminants within food chains.

GES targets for marine litter

Targets and indicators for Descriptor 10 - Characteristics of Litter in the Marine Environment

Overall reduction in the number of visible litter items within specific categories/types on coastlines.

Surveillance indicator to monitor the quantities of litter on the seafloor.

Surveillance indicator to monitor the amounts of plastic found in the contents of fulmars stomachs (in line with the OSPAR Ecological Quality Objective).


1.24 As this draft Marine Litter Strategy will form part of the implementation of the MSFD it is proposed that the Strategy timeframe should be closely aligned with that of implementing MSFD i.e. the initial period for a Strategy would be to 2020 with the achievement of GES. The vision (and revisions to the Strategy) could extend beyond 2020 with any further measures considered at this stage.

1.25 A review is proposed for 2015 to coincide with work on the development of a programme of measures, with a further review to follow in 2018.

Q1. Do you agree with the timescales outlined?


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