River basin planning

River basin planning involves improving and protecting the water environment

The first river basin plans for the Scotland, and Solway Tweed river basin districts were published in 2009. These plans include targets for improving water quality, impacts on flows and levels and the physical condition of the water environment and preventing deterioration.

Latest RBMP news

Managing Invasive Non-Native Species in Scotland’s Water Environment: A Supplementary Plan to the River Basin Management Plans

This plan describes the roles of organisations and partners involved in risk assessment, monitoring, classification, data collection, and prevention and control mechanisms. Most importantly, the plan identifies resourcing pressures and proposes key actions to address these in order to ensure that the WFD objectives are met in future river basin planning cycles.


Scottish Government updates


Consultation on environmental standards


In preparation for the second RBMP the Scottish Government has launched a consultation on new and revised environmental standards for a range of parameters. The consultation will run until the end of January 2014. The consultation can be found at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/12/9547


Greater transparency of RBMP procedure


The Scottish Government has made additional Regulations which describe in more detail the process of setting of environmental objectives, and provide clarity on the development and implementation of the programme of measures necessary to meet the objectives. They are also more explicit regarding the role of responsible authorities in delivering the objectives. The regulations can be found at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2013/323/contents/made 


Protecting shellfish waters for the future


The Scottish Government has now finalised a package of measures to ensure the continued protection and improvement of Scotland’s shellfish growing waters once the existing Directive is repealed in December 2013. The legal framework, which began with new provisions in the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2013, has now been completed with a Designation Order identifying 84 waters as ‘shellfish water protected areas’ and the introduction of regulations on the setting of environmental objectives for those areas.


The Designation Order is at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2013/324/contents/made 

The regulations can be found at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2013/325/contents/made

Analysis of consultation responses is at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/11/2843

Developing the second river basin management plans

We are currently working towards producing the second river basin management plans in 2015.

There are three key steps to producing the second river basin management plans:

The second plans will:

  • be informed by what we have learnt through delivering the first cycle objectives; and
  • target improvement to where we have confidence of environmental impact, and also where most benefits will be achieved

During the first cycle it has become apparent that the most challenging of the pressures on the water environment are those caused by land management. These include pressures from diffuse source pollution, and changes to the physical condition of rivers, lochs and coastal waters.

Together, these pressures cause significant environmental harm affecting fisheries and protected areas such as bathing and drinking waters, but also impact upon the capacity of our water environment to support development and adapt to climate change.

Mechanisms for tackling these pressures will be at the heart of the second plans. The RBMP National Advisory Group is advising on how we can more effectively tackle these pressures in the second cycle. Current views are summarised in the strategy paper ‘Tackling the challenges for Scotland’s water environment’pdf link (80kb)

Getting involved in the development of the second plans

River basin management plans objectives are delivered by a broad range of organisations and sectors. To set objectives for the second plans SEPA is engaging through:

  • sector/pressure specific meetings and workshops
  • advisory groups
  • formal consultations 

To initiate this process SEPA consulted across the Scotland and Solway Tweed river basin planning districts to engage interested parties on development of the second RBMP cycle. The comments and suggestions we received in 2013 continue to be used to improve the engagement process. For summaries of the comments received see the digests below:

Comments received will be used to improve the engagement process, which will inform development of the second RBMPs.