Date received: 28 Jan 2022
Date responded: 24 Feb 2022
1. When and specifically, how microplastic pollution issues will be addressed by the Scottish Government. In particular, on leading edge erosion aspects, assessment of Bisphenol A (BNA) and other pollutants found in water and water sources near industrial wind turbines in Scotland.
2. Copies of plans to measure the pollution levels of BNA and microplastics in ground water and water sources around Scottish wind power installations for inclusion as priority substances under the WFD.
3. If no such requirement is to be imposed upon developers, planning authorities, please provide reasons, and any legal advice given, which absolves the government from taking such action.
As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.
This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.
Under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (also known as Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR)), enforced by Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), microplastics, specifically Bisphenol A, are not listed as a main pollutant or hazardous material. Therefore the pollution levels of BNA and microplastics in ground water and water sources around Scottish wind power installations are not specifically being measured currently.
Emerging contaminants of concern, including microplastics and Bisphenol A, are continuously being risk assessed by the EU under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) for inclusion as priority substances. The EU is currently reviewing the list of priority substances for adoption and microplastics and Bisphenol A are under consideration. The Scottish Government has made clear its commitment to maintain or exceed environmental standards in place upon EU exit, and to maintain alignment with developing EU standards, as far as possible.
When applications for wind farm developments are submitted to the Scottish Ministers under the Electricity Act 1989, the impact on the water environment is assessed within the Environmental Impact Assessment Report submitted with the application. The Scottish Ministers take into account the impacts on the water environment and on granting consent for wind farm development conditions can be attached to the deemed planning permission in relation to water quality and monitoring during the construction of a wind farm.
Some of the information you have requested is available from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, who commissioned a report on understanding microplastics in the Scottish Environment, available online at Scottish Microplastics Report (sepa.org.uk), although this report does not specify wind turbines as a source of pollution.
Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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