Questions and answers
Where did the new diffuse pollution regulations come from?
The Scottish Government published The Water Environment (Diffuse
Pollution) (Scotland) Regulations 2008. This new legislation is
based on widely accepted standards in codes of good practice such
as the Prevention
of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity
(PEPFAA) , the
Forests and Water
Guidelines and the
Point Plan .
These regulations, in the form of
General Binding Rules (GBRs) , came into force in April 2008 and the resulting seven
additional GBRs have now been incorporated into the Water
Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011
(CAR). In addition, a provision in the Control of Pollution
(Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) Regulations 2003 (SSAFO)
has been amended to permit lightly contaminated water from farm
yards to be drained to constructed farm wetlands.
Why are these requirements neccessary?
Diffuse pollution from land use activities has a significant
impact on water quality. To achieve the objectives of the Water
Framework Directive (WFD), we need to maintain and improve water
Rural diffuse pollution arises from land use activities such as
livestock grazing, cultivation of land to grow crops and from
forestry operations. Such activities can give rise to a release of
potential pollutants which individually may not have an impact but
together, at the scale of a river catchment, can impact on water
quality. The pressures and impacts from diffuse pollution are
described in the Significant Water
Management Issues consultation document and include
eutrophication, loss of biodiversity, silting of fish spawning
grounds, and impacts on human health through drinking water or
bathing water pollution. The pollutants of concern include the
nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus, sediment, pesticides,
biodegradable substances, ammonia and micro-organisms.
What do the new regulations cover?
The following activities require some form of authorisation from
SEPA under the Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR):
What do the regulations mean for land
- storage and application of fertilisers;
- keeping of livestock;
- cultivation of land;
- discharge of surface water run-off;
- construction and maintenance of waterbound roads and
- application of pesticide;
- operation of sheep dipping facilities.
Land managers already following good practices will need to take
little, if any, further action. Where issues have been
identified, land mangers will have to decide what changes are
needed to comply with the regulations. Altering practices to comply
with the diffuse pollution GBRs may be as straightforward as moving
a feeding ring 10m away from a burn or keeping 2m back when
cultivating next to a watercourse. As well as complying with
legislation, these changes should help to improve water quality and
may also benefit wildlife. SEPA does not require paperwork, costs
or charges to be kept in association with the administration of
diffuse pollution GBRs.
How will compliance with the diffuse pollution GBRs be
Some diffuse pollution GBR inspections will be carried by
Scotland’s Environmental and
Rural Services (SEARS) .
SEARS involves nine organisations, providing rural services,
working more closely together in order to deliver an improved
service to land managers. It will be the responsibility of staff
from Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspectorates
Directorate (RPID), Forestry Commission and Scottish Natural
Heritage to carry out farm visits to assess compliance with the
diffuse pollution GBRs. Ultimately, SEARS seeks to reduce the
number, complexity, cost and duration of inspections and remove
duplication between organisations.
Is funding available to help reduce diffuse pollution
Development Contracts: Land Managers Options provide funding for some measures
that can reduce diffuse pollution risk. Funding is also available
under the new Rural
Development Contracts - Rural Priorities ; a competitive scheme which
aims to award funding to proposals which are best able to deliver
benefits on a range of key outcomes specific to that area.