SEPA plan sets out water targets, waste programme

Provisional targets to improve the quality of over 2,500 kilometres of Scotland’s rivers and 700 square kilometres of lochs and coastal waters by 2015 have been revealed in the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s draft corporate plan, along with a revised programme on waste.

The corporate plan, due to be published in May, is the first from SEPA to look forward three years, in line with the Government’s spending review.

  • Water: The draft provides the first sight of SEPA’s provisional objectives for improvements to the water environment to meet the 2015 targets set by the EU water framework Directive (see table).

    The objectives will be refined in the light of site-specific assessments, assisted by a national water monitoring strategy to be launched by the end of 2006. The strategy will assess the impact of all the activities - pollution inputs, water resource use and engineering - which SEPA will regulate.

    A six-month transition to a new regime for discharge consents and abstractions will begin in October, and from next year SEPA will begin setting conditions for implementation by 2012 to ensure that the Directive’s requirements are met.

  • Waste: SEPA is preparing a national household waste prevention strategy and action plan, due in mid-2005/06. It will aim to stabilise household waste arisings by 2010.

    A new "framework" for priority non-municipal wastes will include the following schedule:

  • 2005/06: Agriculture, forestry and food, oil refining, coal and gas, clinical and sanitary products, mineral and cooking oils, batteries.

  • 2006/07: Inorganic and organic chemicals, thermal processes, organic solvents and ozone depleting compounds, healthcare, waste and water industries.

  • 2007/08: Exploration and mining, wood processing, leather, fur and textiles, coatings and adhesives, photographic industry, chemical and physical surface treatments.

  • Regulation: SEPA is sticking with its current targets for permit compliance over the next three years - 90% for waste licences, 92% for IPC and air pollution control authorisations, and 95% for discharge consents from 2006/07. The Agency has been struggling to meet the targets, achieving an 83% compliance rate for waste licences and 86% for discharge consents in 2003/04 (ENDS Report 358, p 4 ).

    Other initiatives in regulatory policy will include a three-year strategy for "delivering more effective regulation", due this year alongside a review of enforcement policy.

  • Land: A soil monitoring strategy and initial land quality indicators are due this year. A state of contaminated land report will follow in 2007/08. SEPA has had little involvement in land remediation so far, but is expecting "special sites" to begin to be passed to it by local authorities during 2005.

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