Scotland politics

Scottish Water experts 'could give help globally'

MSPs have been told that Scottish Water has the potential to create international commercial opportunities.

Nicola Sturgeon said some counties were "not so fortunate as Scotland" and they would benefit from Scots-based experts.

However, she added that the commercial side would not be advanced at the expense of the domestic market.

The points were made during a debate on the government's hydro-nation policy, set out in the Water Resources (Scotland) Bill.

Scotland will not seek to exploit water shortages around the world for economic gain, according to the deputy first minister.

Maureen Watt, convener of Holyrood's infrastructure and capital investment committee, worried that the bill appeared to place too much emphasis on developing the "economic value of water and does not say enough about environmental and social considerations".

She added: "From the evidence that we have received it seems to be widely accepted that the three pillars of sustainability - economic, environmental and social - need to be given equal weight when considering the value of our water resources."

'Full potential'

Ms Sturgeon responded by saying that Scotland's water did create the potential for international commercial opportunities, but emphasised that it must not be done at the expense of those with a shortage of water.

She explained: "Our intention was never to derive economic benefit to the detriment of social and environmental benefit, as these will always need to be weighed up and balanced," she said.

"But I have decided that I will bring forward an amendment to the bill in this area at stage two to make that absolutely clear.

"Others across the globe are not so fortunate as Scotland and we have a responsibility to help them, so this bill acknowledges the importance of water as a natural asset and it places a duty on ministers and others to develop Scotland as a hydro-nation that utilises its water resources to its fullest potential.

"As the world population continues to grow, and with the impact of climate change, water availability is going to be even more critical.

"Scotland clearly has a responsibility to bring our expertise to bear for the benefit of the global community."

The bill will extend Scottish Water's functions and protect the public sewerage network from harm.

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