Stronger regulations and improved monitoring to protect Scotland's rivers, lochs and coastlines was announced last week. The Controlled Activities Regulations will apply to all activities that impact on the quality of that environment such as abstraction of water, pollution and building or engineering works. They are designed to be flexible, risk-based and proportionate in their application.

Investment of almost �3 million will extend the groundwater monitoring network and provide digital mapping of all engineering changes to rivers in Scotland. Deputy Environment and Rural Development Minister Lewis Macdonald said: "The quality of Scotland's water environment affects us all and the Executive is determined to protect our lochs, rivers and coastal waters for our own and future generations.

"This package of regulation and resources will help ensure the long-term protection of our precious water resources and the wildlife they support.

"This substantial investment will enable us to deliver several major capital projects and will assist SEPA and other organisations in managing our water environment and minimising damage to river habitats and wetlands."

The Water Framework Directive, introduced in December 2000, applies to all water in the natural environment - that is all rivers, lochs, estuaries and coastal waters as well as water under the ground.

It aims to:

- prevent deterioration in the status of surface water and groundwater bodies ?
- protect, enhance and restore all bodies of surface water and groundwater with the aim of achieving good status by 2015
- prevent or limit the input of pollutants to groundwater and reverse any significant and sustained upward trend in the concentration of pollutants in groundwater
- comply with European wide measures against priority and priority hazardous substances
- achieve compliance with any relevant standards and objectives for protected areas

The �2.85 million funding comes from savings arising in a number of areas within the portfolio and will deliver the following capital and research projects which aim to protect the Scottish water environment:

+ Extended groundwater monitoring network
+ Enhanced water resource monitoring network to help identify pressures on water resources
+ Digital map of all engineering changes to rivers will enable better assessment of damage to river habitats and wetlands
+ Creation of a temporary processing centre to enable SEPA to transfer consents to the new Controlled Activities Regulations regime
+ A web-based registration and application facility for water users providing a simple and efficient web-based means by which water users may register controlled activities
+ Capital equipment for monitoring hazardous substances