SEPA consults on water charging scheme

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has started formal consultation with industry and other water users over details for a new charging scheme due to come into effect on April 1 2006.

The charges will be levied on a number of activities that impact on water in the natural environment and the money will be used to fund improvements to the water improvement in line with the Water Framework Directive.

The regulations will introduce controls over, and potential charges for, abstractions from, and discharges into, water sources, as well as disposal onto land of listed substances and other matter liable to cause pollution to water sources. The charges will be of particular importance to sectors ranging from agriculture and hydro-power to distilleries, civil engineering and fish farms.

“This is an important time for Scotland’s water environment and for SEPA. For the first time, our rivers and lochs will be protected from the effects of abstractions, dams and engineering works, as well as polluting discharges. These important developments will require additional funds and the majority of these costs will be recovered by the proposed charging schemes,” said John Ford, SEPA’s director of finance and corporate services.

He added that charges were focused on higher risk activities requiring monitoring or inspection. Charges would also be lower for activities that returned water to the environment (eg fish farms) as compared to situations where much of the water is not returned (eg irrigation).

SEPA has stated that people who undertake work to directly improve the environment, such as in river restoration or wetland creation, will be exempt from any charges.

Full details of the consultation can be found at SEPA consultation

David Hopkins

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