Coastal Pollution

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:41 am on 22nd March 2007.

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Photo of Scott Barrie Scott Barrie Labour 11:41 am, 22nd March 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what measures it is taking to protect Scotland's coasts from industrial pollution. (S2O-12442)

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

The Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000 (SSI 2000/323) are the primary means of reducing pollution and controlling emissions from industrial processes to water, including Scotland's coasts. Implementation of the regulations is the responsibility of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. In addition, in 2006 the Scottish Executive introduced a new regulatory regime under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (SSI 2005/348), which provides for SEPA to regulate any discharges from industrial sources into Scottish coastal waters not covered under the PPC regulations.

At present, the United Kingdom, with the involvement of SEPA, is reviewing and setting new standards for pollutants viewed as posing a risk to the water environment. In due course, the Scottish Executive will consider where those standards may be applied under Scottish legislation.

Photo of Scott Barrie Scott Barrie Labour

I thank the minister for that comprehensive response. She will be well aware that there have been substantial changes of use in and around the Firth of Forth over the past couple of decades. There have been changes in how we deal with agricultural waste; changes in water treatment and sewerage; and changes in industrial use. Given those improvements, ship-to-ship oil transfer has no place on the modern Forth. Does the minister support the aim of all the local authorities surrounding the Forth, and Fife and Lothian MSPs, to ensure that the proposal by Forth Ports plc does not go ahead?

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

I do not think that the member would expect me to answer the detail of that question in the terms in which he has posed it. I will be absolutely clear. The Executive wants the European Union habitats directive to be fully upheld by Forth Ports, which has accepted that it is the competent authority under that European regulation. I reassure the member that the Executive has repeatedly pressed Forth Ports to ensure that it takes its full responsibility under the directive. There is no lesser test for a private organisation in discharging its responsibilities than there is for a public sector organisation.