12. Summary and next steps
The proposed updates to the 2014 Directions reflect the latest scientific understanding of the standards and needed for a healthy water environment. SEPA has undertaken an initial assessment of the likely overall effect of the new standards on the classification of rivers and lochs.
In summary, the results indicate that around 1.5% of waterbodies will be upgraded in overall classification status under the new standards than under the existing standards with 1% being upgraded to good status or better. Whereas 0.9% of waterbodies will be downgraded in overall classification status. Therefore, the changes to overall classification from these proposals are relatively minor
The technical basis the standards has already been subject to peer review and public consultation by UKTAG, where necessary. The majority represent a refinement of the previous standards rather than a fundamental change, and as such, whilst these are of value in determining the accuracy of our classification assessment, they are of less significance in regulatory terms.
Following this consultation, we plan to issue new Directions to SEPA on standards and classification. These will replace the 2014 Standards Directions and the 2014 Status Directions.
This will enable SEPA to base the third river basin management plans on the improved understanding of the impacts of pressures on the water environment provided by the proposed standards.