Designated Responsible Authorities

The Water Framework Directive was transposed into Scots law by the WEWS Act in 2003. Section 2 (8) of the Act allows Ministers to designate responsible authorities for the purposes of Part I of the Act. The order is known as The Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 (Designation of Responsible Authorities and Functions) Order 2006 SSI/2006/126.

This Designation Order was subsequently updated in 2011 and further amended in 2015
The Water Environment (Relevant Enactments and Designation of Responsible Authorities and Functions) (Scotland) Order 2011


The Water Environment (Relevant Enactments and Designation of Responsible Authorities and Functions) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2015


Information on the SEPA website:

Designation places an obligation upon public bodies whose plans and activities impact on the water environment to carry out their normal statutory functions in a way that secures compliance with WFD objectives. In doing so, these responsible authorities must act to support SEPA in its lead role for river basin management planning and so help secure a successful implementation of the Directive in Scotland.

Designation of responsible authorities will ensure that environmental concerns are addressed at an early stage in the planning of activities that pose a risk to the water environment and also help to ensure that a balance between environmental objectives and social and economic concerns is achieved in the discharge of the public bodies’ normal duties. See:


This arrangement is different from England and Wales where the Environment Agency is the Competent Authority.



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