Better bathing waters: meeting the challenges of the revised Bathing Water Directive in Scotland

A report by the Scottish Executive Environment Group outlining our bathing water strategy for Scotland.

Meeting the administrative challenges

Transposition into Scots Law

38. The revised Bathing Water Directive stipulates that Member States have until 24 March 2008 to transpose its requirements into national law. This is a relatively short period of time in which to produce and enact a piece of legislation, but is not in itself expected to pose a significant problem.

39. The Bathing Water Directive does not allow a great deal of flexibility in implementation by individual Member States. As such, it is anticipated that transposition will largely be a straightforward adoption of the Directive's requirements. Areas where debate is likely include the possibility of delegating rights and responsibilities to national agencies and to local authorities, and in establishing links with The Water Environment and Water Services Act (Scotland) 2003 and The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005.

40. In transposing the Directive, the Scottish Executive will continue to work closely with key stakeholders and will:

  • Produce draft regulations to transpose the Bathing Water Directive by March 2007;
  • Complete a consultation on those draft regulations by October 2007; and
  • Lay the regulations before Parliament before the end of 2007, with them coming into force shortly afterwards.

Identification of bathing waters

41. In addition to its transposition, other administrative challenges are contained within the requirements of the Directive. From 2008, Member States will be required to identify all bathing waters annually prior to the start of the bathing season. This is a change to the current situation in Scotland, whereby identified waters are considered to be bathing waters until further notice.

42. The Bathing Water Review Panel met in 2005 and will meet again in 2006 and 2007 to review Scotland's currently identified bathing waters. The Panel has been asked to invite applications from all sections of the community for new identifications and to review the designation of those bathing waters with the lowest recorded usage (in both the revised and the current Directive, the major determining factor in defining a bathing water is usage).

43. It is expected that as a result of this review process, any waters which are not currently identified as bathing waters, and which should be identified as bathing waters, must be identified prior to the start of the 2008 bathing season. It is also expected that as a result of this process, any currently identified bathing waters which do not meet the stipulated criteria will be de-designated prior to the start of the 2008 bathing season.

44. Therefore, it is not anticipated that the Bathing Water Review Panel would continue to meet in its present form beyond its currently funded lifespan (until 31 March 2008). Instead, such a panel could be asked to conduct further reviews to coincide with the publication of the second, third and fourth River Basin Management Plans required by the Water Framework Directive, in 2015, 2021 and 2027.

45. To meet public participation requirements (see section ' Revised Bathing Water Directive - Meeting the public participation and information provision challenges' below), the Scottish Executive recognises the need to develop a mechanism to enable the submission of, and to review applications to alter the list of identified bathing waters which may reasonably arise from time to time between the periodic reviews set out in paragraph 44.

Defining the bathing season

46. The revised Directive requires that the length of the bathing season shall be annually defined before the start of the bathing season from 2008. The Scottish Executive will review the length of the current bathing season (1 June - 15 September) in conjunction with SEPA and other stakeholders. Any proposal to alter the current bathing season will be included in the consultation on draft regulations referred to in paragraph 40.

47. The bathing season is defined by the Directive as "the period during which large numbers of bathers can be expected". It is not anticipated that this period will alter significantly in a short time. Bather numbers will drive reviews of the list of identified bathing waters. It would therefore seem sensible to use that same review to consider whether or not we need to vary the length of the bathing season. Doing this work at the same time would allow us to make a single announcement regarding both the list of sites and the length of the season.

Establishing a monitoring calendar

48. It is a requirement of the revised Directive that a monitoring calendar for each bathing water shall be established before the start of each bathing season, and for the first time before the start of the 2008 bathing season. As the established national competent authority for sampling these waters is SEPA, it is likely that the monitoring calendar will be considered to be a matter for SEPA, and be a delegated responsibility in the draft regulations referred to in paragraph 40 above.



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Scottish Government
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