Private Water Supplies

Part of Rural Affairs and the Environment – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 7 June 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party 2:15, 7 June 2007

I should have declared an interest, as I have a private water supply. Therefore, I am as sensitive as anybody in the chamber to the issue of ensuring that there is no overregulation or overburdensome regulation.

I am grateful for the advance notice of Mr Fraser's supplementary question, which I received via the pages of the Aberdeen Press and Journal yesterday, in which he demanded that the regulations be immediately withdrawn.

The reality of the situation is slightly different from what Mr Fraser has presented. It is, for example, important that the new regulations had the full backing of the Scottish E coli 0157 task force, because there can be a danger to public health from private water supplies in certain circumstances. Mr Fraser may not be aware that research that was commissioned by the Executive confirmed that all of the 33 supplies that were monitored in north-east Scotland throughout 2002 and 2003 suffered from some form of contamination at least once in those years. Health Protection Scotland has estimated that people who are served by private supplies are 10 times more likely to become ill as a result of drinking contaminated water than those who are served by the public supply. I am drinking the bottled stuff at the moment. In those circumstances, a one-off scheme that allows people to improve their water supplies is desirable.

I am always aware of overregulation and regulatory burdens and costs. However, I ask Mr Fraser to consider whether, as the holiday season arrives, it is sensible to pursue a policy that puts holidaymakers at risk. Surely we should pursue a policy that makes them feel safe.