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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S6W-02264
Asked by: Monica Lennon, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour
Date lodged: 16 August 2021


To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to tackle the reported 40% increase in sewage spills into rivers and seas in the last five years, and whether it plans to introduce binding targets to limit sewage pollution.

Current status: Answered by Mairi McAllan on 6 September 2021


The combined sewer network is designed to spill during heavy rainfall to protect homes from flooding. The reported 40% increase in sewage spills in the last five years is primarily due to increases in total annual rainfall and rainfall intensity which are related to climate change. The Scottish Government is committed to reducing sewage spills into rivers and seas across Scotland.

We have introduced legislation through the Urban Waste Water Treatment (Scotland) Regulations 1994 and the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 to minimise the impact of sewage discharges on the water environment.

We are working closely with Scottish Water and SEPA to prioritise investment to reduce sewage spill frequency and impact on the water environment. As part of a long-term strategy, Scottish Water is aiming to transform its waste water services to meet the challenges presented by the impacts of climate change and population growth.