Amended Water Regulations in Scotland
Environmental update - 02/06/2011
The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland)
Regulations (CAR) 2011 came into force on 31st March 2011,
consolidating and revoking the 2005 Regulations of the same name.
CAR (2011) provides a system of authorisations for various
activities in or affecting the water environment, with different
levels of authorisation required depending upon the risk posed by
The key change brought about by CAR (2011) relates to the
provisions for dealing with emergency situations. An "emergency" is
defined as an event or situation that threatens serious damage to
human welfare or the environment. An event or situation only
threatens damage to the environment if it involves causes or may
cause contamination of land, water or air with biological, chemical
or radioactive matter, or disruption or destruction of plant or
CAR (2011) provides that if SEPA considers that, because of an
emergency, there is a need to accelerate the timescales for
determining applications for authorisation, or for variation or
suspension of an authorisation, then it may decide such
applications within a shorter period than provided in the
Regulations. The period of time within which such decisions
will be made is decided by SEPA.
The policy document on the use of the emergency provisions under
CAR (2011) gives examples of the types of emergency that the
measures are designed to deal with, including fire, flood events,
pollution incidents, accidents, water shortages, outbreaks of
disease and invasive non-native species.
CAR (2011) also makes various other changes, including:
- Groundwater protection – SEPA is required to
impose conditions as are required to comply with the Groundwater
Directive 2006 in respect of applications for authorisation made
after 22nd December 2013. The Groundwater Directive 2006
requires Member States to prevent or limit the input of pollutants
- SEPA screening opinions – Applicants can now
request a screening opinion from SEPA as to whether the proposed
activity is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the
water environment. This should help to ensure clarity in
respect of the information that will be required to accompany an
application, since additional information is required where the
proposed activity may have such an impact.
- Consultation with public authorities – SEPA is
now also required to consult public authorities with an interest in
an application where the proposed activity has, or is likely to
have a significant adverse impact on the water environment.
This should help to ensure some consistency.
- Publicity for determinations – SEPA is also
required to make public the reasons for its decision where the
application relates to an activity that is likely to have a
significant adverse impact on the water environment.
The Regulations are available from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2011/209/contents/made