Lochs and Rivers (Ecological Status)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 4th November 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jeremy Balfour Jeremy Balfour Conservative

2. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to support the ecological status of Scotland’s lochs and rivers. (S6O-00328)

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

Scotland’s river basin management plans set out the Scottish Government’s continued commitment to a wide range of measures that are protecting and improving the ecological status of our rivers and lochs. Actions that are already under way include ensuring that good agricultural practice is adopted and providing investment in public waste water infrastructure to improve water quality.

Achievement of the objectives that are set out in the plans is a responsibility that is shared between the Scottish Government, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, local authorities, and other public bodies and regulated businesses, such as Scottish Water and agriculture, fish farm, distillery and hydro power businesses.

Photo of Jeremy Balfour Jeremy Balfour Conservative

Does the minister agree that SEPA’s recent assessment found that Scottish rivers, lochs, canals and burns are in the worst state on record? Does she intend to bring forward urgent plans to address that dreadful situation?

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

It is not correct to say, as was reported on 22 October, that Scotland’s rivers and lochs are in the worst state on record. The number of water bodies that were awarded “bad” overall ecological status by SEPA fell from 126 in 2018 to only 64 in 2019. SEPA’s monitoring and assessment of the water environment shows that the number of rivers and lochs that have been rated as “bad” or “poor” due to pollution is at its lowest ever level—just 1 per cent were classified in that way in 2019.

Photo of Emma Roddick Emma Roddick Scottish National Party

The United Kingdom Government made a partial U-turn on allowing raw sewage to be dumped into rivers and coastal waters only after its members of Parliament came under extreme criticism. Scotland undertakes around 80 per cent of the UK’s tree planting and was one of the first nations in the world to declare a climate emergency.

Does the minister therefore share my view that the Scottish National Party Government needs no instruction from the Tories on how to conduct itself when it comes to the environment?

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

Eighty-seven per cent of our water environment is now at the “good” quality level, which is hard evidence that this Government has taken its environmental responsibilities seriously for many years.

Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Liberal Democrat

There have been several instances of pollution of the river Eden in my constituency over recent years, with the death of many fish and an impact on other wildlife. Does SEPA have sufficient resources and authority to enforce environmental law? Has the minister considered whether wildlife crime officers could have an additional role?

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

I am happy to meet Willie Rennie to look into that matter further.