Strategic Research Programme 2011-2016: highlights

Report highlighting environment and rural economy research outputs, and resulting impact, funded through the programme.

Water and Renewable Energy

Scotland has a high-quality water environment which is important for Scotland's economy, health, social wellbeing and the environment. Water plays a prominent role in the success of many sectors of the economy, such as tourism and food and drink manufacturing.

Renewable sources of energy can provide a sustainable means of generating the energy we need. Scotland has huge potential for renewable energy generation due to its geology and climate. Renewables are the single largest contributor to electricity generation in Scotland, accounting in 2015 for over 50%. Research funded by the SRP helps to ensure that water and renewable energy resources are utilised sustainably to bring the greatest benefits to Scotland.

Water Quality - NVZ reviews

Nitrate Vulnerable Zones ( NVZs) are areas where the concentrations of nitrate in water exceed, or are likely to exceed, acceptable levels. The source of nitrates in water is primarily from agricultural fertilisers, so legally binding rules are put in place in NVZs to reduce nitrate loss from agricultural land. SEPA led a 2013 Nitrates Directive Review to develop a new methodology to designate NVZs. SRP researchers modelled nitrate loadings to groundwater, which were used as one strand of evidence in the review. As a result of this review NVZs were revised in 2015, resulting in 2,700 km 2 of land being declassified. While the total area of Scotland designated as in an NVZ has reduced, NVZ measures remain targeted where they can have most impact.

Flood Risk Management

Approximately 79,000 homes are at risk of flooding in Scotland. Adopting a whole catchment approach and utilising Natural Flood Management ( NFM) methods can bring about effective flood management while also delivering multiple benefits to the environment, society and the economy. To understand how to best deliver NFM measures, which slow and store the water, SRP researchers worked closely with SEPA and formed research platforms e.g. at Bowmont Water and Dee catchments. Experiments have been run to understand how NFM may change catchment processes, and workshops and advice provided for practitioners on how best to place NFM measures. Webpages were developed to provide live data feeds for a number of rivers. In the Tarland catchment this data is used by the Local Authority to trigger automated flood alert texts to the public. Researchers also sit on a number of flooding policy working groups, advising the Scottish Government on the role of NFM.


Email: Jenny Watson,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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