Despite Brexit Scotland wants to align its drinking water with EU standards

The Scottish government wants to align with EU drinking water standards. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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Scotland´s drinking water is due to be aligned with standards set by the European Union – despite Brexit from 1 January 2023. The anticipated start date comes after Scottish lawmakers used powers under the EU Continuity Act 2020 to deal with the impact of Brexit. The Act ensures that Scotland can maintain and advance the high standards shared between devolved Scots and EU law, irrespective of the consequences of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Scotland’s public drinking water and sewerage services are provided by Scottish Water, a public company accountable to Scottish Ministers and Scottish Parliament. New regulations under the Act will comply with updated standards set by the World Health Organisation that limit pollutants and endocrine-disrupting compounds, including PFAS. Angus Robertson, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, said:  “Scotland’s drinking water is renowned for its excellent quality all over the world and we will be relentless in ensuring it stays this way and meets the highest of standards.”

Scotland wants to rejoin EU

Scotland wants to rejoin the EU and therefore still wants to comply with the European Drinking Water Directive. Robertson: “These latest steps we are taking, to maintain those standards, are a prime example of our commitment to re-join the EU and align with its policies. Through such action, we will continue to protect the health and wellbeing of people in Scotland and also ease the future process of Scotland’s return to the EU.”

UK undermines EU law

“This is in stark contrast to the approach being taken by the UK Government, intent on undermining retained EU law which will be hugely damaging to people and businesses in Scotland. Robertson: “We’re determined to continue to be an active and constructive participant on EU matters, which will ease the process of Scotland’s future return to the EU.”

Improvements

In the Scottish Government´s Hydro Nation: annual report 2021 it stated that “during the 2015-2021 period improvements were made to waste water assets in order to protect or improve the environment and to comply with a number of European Directives.” In an earlier, 2015, report on working with APE and the equitable management of water resources, the Scottish Government said: “We strongly support the view that this can only be achieved through informed decision-making and inclusive governance based on stakeholders’ and citizens’ participation; which are already key features of the Scottish governance model. “We will continue to contribute to the European discussion on these, and other, key water-policy issues in support of the contribution that the public ownership model makes to the sustainable development of water resources.”

Referendum

The Scottish government had planned to hold an independence referendum on 19 October 2023. If independence was obtained Scotland would seek to re-join the EU. However, the UK´s Supreme Court ruled on 23 November that England´s neighbour does not have the power to hold a new referendum on independence without the consent of the British government – a highly unlikely event. Scotland´s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she wants the next general election to be a “de facto referendum” on independence.

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