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Working together for the North Highland water environment

4th March 2009

Protecting and enhancing the natural waters of the North Highland area is a huge task involving many organisations and communities, and Scotland's environment watchdog is urging all those with an interest to get involved.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is asking interested local communities and businesses to read the draft River basin management plans (RBMP) and Local area management plans (AMP) and feed back whether they think the plans are comprehensive enough, how they can help to achieve the aims of the plans, and how we can all work together to achieve them.

The EU Water Framework Directive requires member states to look at their water environments in a different way. SEPA, and its predecessor organisations, have driven major improvements in Scotland's water quality over the past few decades. Now classification covers new categories, including water quantity, ecology and changes to the natural shape of rivers and lochs. Each category is graded from high to bad, with the worst class determining the overall classification.

SEPA helps to protect the country's water environments, which are vibrant places providing sources of drinking water, habitat for fauna and flora, a focus for leisure and recreation and is also an important resource for many industries. The key to further improving our water bodies is to respond to local issues at a local level, which is why the Local area management plans have been created.

SEPA's Tom Inglis, Chair of the North Highland Area Advisory Group said: "Scotland's natural water resources are vital to its environmental, economic and social wellbeing; relied upon for high quality drinking water, by industry for manufacturing, for generating hydro-power, and as a very high quality natural habitat supporting a wealth of important plant and animal species. It also provides us with a range of sporting and recreational opportunities. Yet, some of these very activities also pose a threat to its future status and quality, requiring careful management and forward planning if we are to prevent further deterioration and to improve them.

"The North Highland Area management plan will supplement the first draft of Scotland's River basin management plan, which describes the condition of our water environment using a new classification system being applied across Europe.

"SEPA and its partner organisations responsible for drawing up the plan are keen to hear views from the public and interested organisations on how we plan to improve and maintain the status of our water resource in the North Highland area."

This is your opportunity to review these draft plans, contribute to the river basin planning process and help shape the final plan that will be published in December 2009.

The local plan for North Highland is available from Responses to the consultation must be submitted before 22 June 2009, earlier responses would be welcomed, by writing to Draft River Basin Management Plan for the Scotland River Basin District, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Corporate Office, Erksine Court, Castle Business Park, STIRLING FK9 4TR; or by emailing rbmp[AT] or via our website


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