Arrangements for Water Pollution Control in Scotland

Publication Date01 December 1968
Date01 December 1968
AuthorFred H. Hubbard
Arrangements for Water Pollution
Control in Scotland *
UDC 351.791.19
Water of acceptable quality and adequate
emerging as a principal concern of scientists,
quantity is indispensable to urban-oriented and
resource managers, administrators, and poli-
industrialised societies.
However, water is
tical leaders. When an arrangement is devel-
becoming increasingly polluted from a variety
oped to achieve this difficult task, it is a matter
of sources, chiefly those directly associated
of interest and worthy of examination for the
with the very activities urban-industrialised so-
lessons that can be learned for possible ap-
cieties generate, with a resulting decline in
plication elsewhere.
quality. At the same time, the degradation of
- An arrangement designed to achieve an
quality is influencing the quantity available
effective water pollution control programme
since water uses most frequently require some
followed passage of British legislation in 1951
general minimum characteristic irrespective of
permitting the establishment of river purifica-
the amount available.
Preventing the degra-
tion boards in certain catchment basins of
dation of water quality and providing an ade-
Scotland. This paper, the result of a study
quate quantity to satisfy demands is widely
of the Scottish effort, from September 1967
considered to be one of the most critical prob-
to May 1968, describes the Scottish arrange-
lems now being confronted by urban-oriented
ments, identifies outcomes of their operation,
and industrialised societies.
. and discusses considerations in their applica-
tion elsewhere.
Various means are available to attack the
pollution problem. These include the
pollution control activities in Scot-
paration of comprehensive plans for water
land are carried out by local and regional
management, financial arrangements to en-
authorities, the central government, industry,
and a wide
courage polluters to control wastes, research
range of official and semi-official
to provide better waste control technologies,
advisory groups, associations and committees.
technical help and information where expertise
Impetus stems from a rising demand for fresh
is limited, regulations of various kinds, and
water in some areas; increased attention to
training of personnel in certain pollution con-
amenity and recreational values; a very strong
trol tasks.
interest in natural and salmon
means are made available
fishing; and a
through an
growing sensitivity over
array of organisations, including
righting - past neglect.
governmental units, private firms
Local authorities and
or groups,
industry have the exe-
and educational institutions.
cutive power in pollution control.
particular are the direct
A successful
agents in construction, operation, and
effort to combat and abate
maintenance of the majority of pollution abate-
pollution may draw upon a variety of means
ment works, in
controlling land uses influencing
arrangements to enable the respective con-
water conditions, and are the dominant units
tributions to be made for achieving an effective
with which other governmental levels must ul-
programme. Arrangements for implementing
timately work to carry out
pollution control
programmes, therefore, are
key links to the success of an effective solution
of the pollution problem.
* Information for this paper was obtained while
the author was on a leave of absence from the
Federal Water Pollution
Control Administration,
arrangements for administering
Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. The
pollution control efforts are difficult to develop.
study was supported by the U.S.-U.K. Education
The development of different arrangements
Commission, London, England, the administering
within which various efforts can be combined,
agency for the American Fulbright-Hays Act. The
regulated and co-ordinated to satisfy modern
paper is entirely the responsibility of the author and
does not necessarily reflect the views of the Admin-
society’s needs for water is a task rapidly
istration or the Commission.

Programmes planned and carried out by
from sheep dips flowing into burns of High-
local authorities are subject to review by re-
land crofts.
Quantitative assessments of the
gional authorities and the central government.
problem are available in the detailed records
The review function to which local authorities
of the applications for consent maintained by
are subjected by higher levels of government
river purification boards, but running publish-
in pollution control is that concerned with con-
ed accounts are infrequently summarised or
sent to discharge wastes, and with technical
evaluated. The last general review of the prob-
review when permission to obtain loans -
lem in Scotland was published by the Brown-
such as for waste treatment plants -
is re-
Lindsay Committee in 1950, but obviously
quired (1). Conditions necessary to obtain
much has happened since then.
consent are administered by river purification
The concentration of
boards and
discharges is, of
some local authorities.
course, in the populated industrial area of cen-
The full
tral Scotland about the Forth and
range of water management ac-
Clyde es-
tivities permitted English and Welsh river au-
tuaries, but the localised problems are no less
thorities is not provided for in Scottish legis-
severe in proportion to the available resources.
In England and Wales the Water
Arrangements for solving localised problems
Resources Act, 1963,
gave river authorities
different, but no easier to develop in the
rather broad multipurpose
less settled areas than in highly industrialised
powers of water re-
gulation and development. The Scottish legal
In some cases, size helps mask diffi-
system is distinct in
culties more
many ways from the En-
readily exposed in smaller places.
glish, but, in general, statutes passed by Par-
Pollution control efforts in Scotland are
liament may be applicable equally to Scotland
changing, often slowly, as demands are felt.
when there is no basic difference in Scottish
New regional water supply and water develop-
law on the subject. Otherwise, separate sta-
ment boards are being organised and have
tutes are required for Scottish legislation.
mutual interests in water management program-
Most of the recent legislation concerned with
A new Sewerage (Scotland) Act, 1968,
water and sewerage in Scotland is contained
will permit local authorities to dispose of trade
in separate Scottish statutes, but these are in-
effluent and charge for the service. The Royal
fluenced by English law and developments.
Commission on Reform of Local Government
Pollution problems
reviewing local government responsibilities
are extreme in their
variety, and
problems; pollution prevention work may
vary from heat and chemical
be affected in unforeseen
wastes in industrialised
ways and river
areas along the banks
of the intensively developed Clyde (2) to wastes
responsibilities altered by the Commis-
sion’s recommendations.
(1) The burden of financing construction of waste
treatment plants falls largely on the ratepayer
through rates paid to the local authority. In most
cases of any sizeable construction, loans are needed
for capital works, and permission to apply for a loan,
This section describes the water pollution
from whatever source, is required from the central
control programme in Scotland by focusing the
government. When permission to apply for a loan
discussion on the
legal provision for regulating
requested, a perfunctory technical and feasibility
review of the proposed project, which has been
pollution through a requirement that dischar-
designed by competent engineers, is made by central
ges prescribe to certain conditions. Dischar-
government. These loans are repaid by ratepayers
gers of wastes are required to apply for per-
through the rates on property. To help offset the
mission or consent to
local burden, central
discharge wastes into
government rate support grants
can also be used for capital improvements such as
receiving waters, and approval is subject to
treatment works and sewers, but are not specifically
conditions laid down by river purification
allocated for that purpose. More thorough review
boards. The consent provisions are the most
of waste treatment plans is given by central govern-
ment when a
clearly established and discrete tool available
grant is given for development pro-
jects, such as housing or industrial. In these nume-
implementing improvement programmes
rous grants, sewage treatment may be a small part
within the Scottish water pollution control ar-
of the total project, but since a government grant
rangements. Consent provides the goals to be
is involved, extensive review is given to the entire
achieved by dischargers, and is a yardstick for
development as well as to the sewage treatment
measuring deviation from the established ob-
(2) The best recent assessment of the problem of
jectives. All the activities conducted by river
the Clyde may be found in J.I. Waddington’s A
purification boards, all the designs by county
Matter of Priorities, paper presented at the Institute
of Water Pollution Control
consulting engineers, and all the expenditu-
Symposium in Edinburgh,

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