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The Water Environment (Miscellaneous) (Scotland) Regulations 2017

The Water Environment (Miscellaneous) (Scotland) Regulations 2017

These Regulations amend the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (“the Principal Regulations”).

The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (“CAR”) (as amended) provide a regulatory framework for controlling activities which could have an adverse effect on Scotland’s water environment, including abstraction, impoundments, engineering, dredging, surface water drainage, and pollution, with the aim of protecting, and restoring, the water environment. These Regulations amend CAR, primarily to improve clarity and to introduce some new rules which apply to the carrying out of certain activities authorised under CAR.

Key amendments

The Regulations amend existing general binding rules (GBRs) 3, 9 to 13, 15, 17 to 20, 23 and 24, and inserts new GBRs 25 to 28.

The key amendments are as follows:

  • The following changes are made to the existing general binding rules listed above-
    • Activity 3 is revised to include the construction, extension and the on-going operation of a well, borehole or other works by which water may be abstracted; rule (a) is revised to specify that it applies to other works by which water may be abstracted, and that the entry of pollutants or water of a different chemical composition into the water environment must be avoided; rule (e) is new and provides that the depth of any well or borehole must not exceed 200 metres.
    • Activity 9 is widened to apply to all activities within schedule 3, and to the maintenance of existing man-made structures in or near any surface water or wetland; rules (b), (c) and (e) are revised to improve clarity regarding how distances are to be measured; rule (h) is revised to apply to the operation of machinery in any surface water or wetland; rule (i) is new and provides for the repair of damage caused by an operation.
    • Activity 10(a) sets out in greater detail the areas where drainage is authorised and activity 10(b) provides that the activity covers all water run-off from specified construction sites; a new rule (f) is inserted and provides that all parts of a site must be drained (not just areas where actual construction is taking place); existing rules (f) and (g) are renumbered (g) and (h); existing rule (h) is deleted.
    • Activity 11 – rule (d) is revised to provide that in carrying out activity 10 the area of, and the period of time for which, soil is exposed must be minimised.
    • Activity 12 relating to the removal and return of sediment, is revised to require the return of certain sediment in accordance with the rules – rule (a) is revised to provide that sediment may only be removed within 10 metres upstream of the weir; new rules (c) to (h) replace rules (c) to (g) and provide improved clarity.
    • Activity 13 – rule (h)(iv) is renumbered (i) to improve clarity.
    • Activity 15 – rule (b) is revised to provide that groundwater must not be extracted within 250m of any surface water unless the abstracted water is discharged at the nearest part of the surface water and in accordance with rule (f).
    • Activity 17 is widened to include the abstraction and subsequent return of groundwater as part of a cooling system; rule (c) is revised to clarify that pollutants must not be added to the abstracted water; rule (f) is new and provides that the activity must not prevent any other authorised abstraction of water or be within 250m of abstraction of water intended for human consumption.
    • Activity 18 is revised for clarity and to separate out the storage of fertiliser and the application of fertiliser; the rules are extensively amended and extend to the storage, transfer, and application of fertiliser.
    • Activity 19 – rules (a) and (c) are revised to clarify how distances from surface waters are to be measured; rule (d) is new and provides that run-off must be intercepted (by a buffer zone or otherwise) to prevent faeces, urine or soil from entering any spring, well, borehole, surface water or wetland.
    • Activity 20 – rule (a) is revised to clarify how distances from surface waters are to be measured; rule (b) is revised for clarity; rule (c) provides land must be cultivated in a way that minimises the risk of pollution to the water environment.
    • Activity 23 is revised so that it applies only to the storage and application of pesticides that are plan protection products. Rules (a), (b) and (c) are revised to include all methods of application; rule (g) is new and allows the application of herbicide to control non-native invasive species of plants on river banks. Existing rules (g) and (h) are renumbered (h) and (i) and existing rule (h)(iv) is renumbered (j).
    • Activity 24 is revised to include the activity of operating sheep handling facilities in which sheep are held during or after treatment with pour-on chemicals
  • Four new activities and associated rules, 25-28, have been introduced.
    • Activity 25 allows land managers to carry out certain bank protection measures without contacting SEPA for authorisation.
    • Activity 26-28 relate to the storage of oil. They consolidate the provisions of the Water Environment(Oil Storage)(Scotland) Regulations 2006 (the “2006 Regulations”) into CAR, and extend the application of those provisions, so that rules apply to the storage in depots for the onward distribution of oil. Some of these sites contain storage tanks over 50 years old.


These Regulations came into force on 01 January 2018.

Further Information

The Water Environment (Miscellaneous) (Scotland) Regulations 2017


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