In 2011, the Scottish Parliament passed The Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 (the 2011 Act) which, once fully enacted, will replace the current regime under The Reservoirs Act 1975 (the 1975 Act).

There are currently around 670 reservoirs in Scotland which hold more than 25,000m3 of water and are regulated by local authorities under the 1975 Act. Those reservoirs are now required to be registered with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to comply with the 2011 Act. Registration opened on 1st April 2015, with a six month free registration period. Failure to register within this time would mean missing the free registration period and could result in enforcement action.

There is not yet a timetable for commencing registration of reservoirs which fall under regulation for the first time due to the lowering of the volumetric threshold to 10,000m3 in terms of the 2011 Act. However, from 1st April 2015, any newly constructed reservoir which will hold 10,000m3 or more of water and any alteration to any existing reservoir which would result in the reservoir holding 10,000m3 or more of water requires to be registered by the reservoir manager (see our briefing note Reservoirs (Scotland) Act 2011 for further details as to what constitutes a reservoir manager) with SEPA.

It is the responsibility of the reservoir manager to register the reservoir with SEPA. SEPA has collected a significant amount of information about the reservoirs registered under the 1975 Act and, to assist reservoir managers in the registration process, SEPA will supply reservoir managers with hard copies of the registration forms, pre-populated with the information SEPA already holds. Reservoir managers should check the forms, complete any missing information and return the forms to SEPA.

After the six month registration period has ended, SEPA will begin to provide reservoir managers with provisional risk designations for those reservoirs which have been registered. SEPA will notify the reservoir manager of the provisional risk designation and the reservoir manager has two months within which to make a representation to SEPA if the reservoir manager believes the risk designation is incorrect. It is important to note that the risk designation is not a reflection of the management or condition of the reservoir, but reflects the potential impact on the surrounding area if flooding occurred.

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