New guidance for ensuring the protection and improvement of Scotland’s watercourses has been published.

Land managers are being encouraged to follow advice set out in the Diffuse Pollution and General Binding Rules to reduce diffuse pollution, which has been identified as one of the biggest threats to keeping Scotland’s water clean and healthy.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse launched the guidance at a conference in Peebles.

Drawn up in partnership with key stakeholders including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the guidance pack includes advice leaflets on:

  • application and storage of chemical fertiliser, organic manure and slurry, and pesticides
  • keeping of livestock in proximity to water environment
  • cultivation of land
  • the use of sheep dip
  • steading drainage

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse said:

“Scotland is renowned worldwide for its rivers, lochs and seas. River basin management planning recognises that a successful catchment approach needs effective partnership working.

“The quality of our environment is fundamental to the success and economic growth of farming, and many of our key industries and communities rely on maintaining excellent water standards.

“We are working alongside land managers to reduce diffuse pollution from agricultural activities. Our collaborative approach on this is recognised throughout Europe and work on the ground is proving extremely effective, with the support of land managers across Scotland. The new guidance being made available will be a key tool in continuing to build on this success.”

NFU Scotland’s Deputy Director of Policy, Andrew Bauer said:

“Scotland’s partnership approach to educating and informing farmers on how to improve and maintain water quality is already bringing dividends. This new guidance is an easy-to-understand aid that builds on that work by better explaining the rules that are already in place to protect our watercourses.”

SRUC Senior Agricultural Consultant Chris McDonald said:

“Farmers are already doing a lot to protect water quality. These new guides provide a handy reminder of the key points to reduce diffuse pollution risks and keep on the right side of the regulations when carrying out routine practices such as spreading slurry, using pesticides or dipping sheep.”

To learn more about the problem of diffuse pollution and view the new guidance please visit