REHIS News – November 2023

Annual General Meeting 

The Institute’s Annual General Meeting was held on Friday 17 November at the Edinburgh Training and Conference Centre with many members attending, some in person and others via MS Teams.  Evonne Bauer gave her Presidential Report reflecting on the previous year in her role as President. Prior to the AGM was the Institute’s annual Environmental Health Update where we heard from an excellent line up of speakers including Food Standards Scotland and Falkirk Council, speaking on collaboration of authorities with regard to the “slimming pill case”; challenges surrounding LEZs from Transport Scotland; climate and health problems with intensive farming from the Compassion in World Farming and a view from Fife Council on commercial premises and Net Zero Waste. The presentations from the event can now be view on the REHIS Members area

Lynn Crothers has now been installed as the Institute’s President for the coming year. Congratulations to the Lynn and all the newly elected Members of the Council.  You can view the Council Members here. MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL 

REHIS Annual Environmental Public Health and Housing Update, 29 November 2023 

The annual Public Health and Housing update event is being held on 29 November 2023. The online event will have presentations on the health risks associated with lead in drinking water, traditional buildings and retrofit, details on the use of the shared common repairs app; and more.  To book a place please click here 

Updated Scheme of Continuing Professional Development  

As a corporate member of the Institute, you are recognised as a professional through your commitment to the scheme of continuing professional development (CPD). 

The Royal Charter under which the Institute operates offers a unique opportunity for EHO members to achieve Chartered EHO status subject to complying with the CPD scheme.  This is the highest possible professional status and recognises an individual’s professional qualifications, training, experience within, and commitment to, environmental health practice. 

The Institute has recently updated the scheme of continuing professional development to one single flowing document for both EHO and non EHO members.  The updated scheme also includes alternative options to the written submission for EHOs with or working towards Chartered status. 

Read more about the updated CPD scheme here CPD – REHIS  

Special Investigators Course 

The Special Investigators Course is being held in Stirling from 11-15 December.  Although the course is full, depending on interest the Institute would be happy to organise another 5 day event or perhaps a shorter event on specific aspects of investigation, evidence gathering, witness interviewing and court room proceedings.  Happy to hear your thoughts! 

Water, Wastewater and Drainage Policy Consultation 

The Institute has been invited to comment on the consultation below and thought this may be of interest to our members.  The proposed changes will replace the Water (Scotland) Act 1980 and incorporates all water quality including PWS.  The consultation seeks views on developing policy for the future of the water industry in Scotland in response to the climate emergency and refers to the “climate crisis” that is happening now. You are invited to comment on risks and recommendations laid out by the Climate Change Committee (CCC). 

The closing date for responses is 21 February.

Heat pumps too loud for home, study says

UK Ministers have been told, that heat pumps are too loud to be installed in millions of homes under the UK Government’s noise guidelines.

The UK Government aims to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 to hit net zero targets, but a report seen by The Daily Telegraph, sound specialists warn uptake could be limited.

The study reveals that most heat pumps are too loud for many homes in built-up areas, such a terraced houses and flats, because they would break noise limits set for home-owners who want to install one without planning permission and with a government grant.

Local Authorities are also braced for a rise in noise complaints as more of the green appliances installed in urban areas.

The findings, produced by a group of noise experts, have been sent to the UK Government to contribute to a review into heat pump noise being run by the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (Desnz). Air source heat pumps, which are positioned outstand a home, can produce a low constant hum of between 40 and 60 decibels which is similar to the level of noise made by a fridge or dishwasher. They will typically run continuously throughout winter.

The UK Government is encouraging homeowners to install heat pumps by offering up to £7,500 towards the cost under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS). The grant was last month increased from £5,000 after fewer than 10,000 of an available 30,000 vouchers were redeemed in the first year. But to qualify for the grant, heat pump installations must comply with regulations set out by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) – including a minimum level of noise disturbance to neighbours. It means a heat pump must not generate noise louder than 42 decibels within one metre of a neighbour’s door or window.

Yet, the report, which was presented to the Institute of Acoustics at a conference, found that the top heat pumps from the five main manufacturers, not one device would meet MCS standards on noise unless the unit was at least four metres away.

The authors warned: “Without the MCS there is no BUS grant and, therefore, a likely significant reudction in uptake of heat pumps across England and Wales”

Heat pumps installations also have to comply with MCS standards to be installed without planning permission as a permitted development.

Food Standards Scotland launch Vitamin D campaign

Did you know that in the winter months (October – March), we are unable to get enough Vitamin D from sunlight? It is also really difficult to get enough vitamin D from food. Food Standards Scotland recommends taking a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement daily throughout the winter months. 

Why is this important? 

Vitamin D helps improve bone and muscle health. Some groups are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency and are recommended to take a supplement year-round. 

These include: 

•pregnant and breastfeeding women

•infants and children under 5 years old

•people who have low or no exposure to the sun, for example those who cover their skin forcultural reasons, are housebound, confined indoors for long periods or live in an institution

•people from minority ethnic groups with dark skin such as those of African, African-Caribbean and south Asian origin, who require more sun exposure to make as muchvitamin D

Support and guidance

Visit the Food Standards Scotland website for more information about the importance of vitamin D. 

One month to go to Clean Air Night

It’s just one month until Global Action Plan officially kick off the first year of the Clean Air Night campaign.

The campaign will spotlight three important truths about wood burning – that it harms your wallet, health and the planet. 

The campaign will run for four weeks in the lead up to Clean Air Night on 24 January, with a week that spotlights each of these key truths: 

  • Week 1: Introduction to Clean Air Night (13 – 19 December) 
  • Week 2: Wood burning harms your wallet (3 – 9 January) 
  • Week 3: Wood burning harms the planet (10 – 16 January) 
  • Week 4: Wood burning harms your health (17 – 23 January) 

To make it as easy as possible for you to take part in Clean Air Night, Global Action Plan are providing dedicated social media resources for each of these weeks – as well as resources that can be used throughout the campaign and can be accessed here.

Scottish vaping campaign launched

A new marketing campaign informing parents, carers and school pupils of the dangers of vaping has been launched by the Scottish Government.

The ‘Take Hold’ marketing campaign will increase awareness of the harms and risks of nicotine addiction associated with vaping, with schools across Scotland provided with digital guidance packs and resources for posters along with radio and outdoor advertising. Its key message is that vapes may quickly become harmfully addictive for children and young people, affecting their concentration, mental health and mood.

It comes as a new Tobacco and Vaping Framework is published, setting out actions which will be taken to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034.

Vaping addiction soon takes hold – NHS inform 

Scottish Government publish new Tobacco and Vaping Framework

The Scottish Government have published a new Tobacco and Vaping Framework, which sets out actions to be taken to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034.

The Framework for reaching the 2034 goal includes action to raise the age limit for sales of tobacco and plans to improve services to help people quit. In addition, the Scottish Government will continue to review what further action is needed to limit the appeal of vapes to children, young people and non-smokers during the first phase of the framework which will run until November 2025 .

Earlier this month, the UK Government set out its plans for a “smoke-free generation” by phasing out the sale of cigarettes. The Tobacco and Vapes Bill going through Westminster will restrict the sale of tobacco so anyone turning 14 this year or younger will never legally be sold cigarettes. Scottish Ministers are producing their own framework which will complement this, with the cigarette phase-out also taking place in Scotland.

Key Framework actions are listed here Tobacco and Vaping Framework: Roadmap to 2034 – (

The first 2 year implementation plan actions are list here Tobacco and Vaping Framework: Roadmap to 2034 – ( and these include an awareness raising campaign on e-cigarettes, work on pack inserts and age of sale, including potentially extending UK legislation to include age of sale for e-cigarettes, price levers, enforcement, review hospital grounds restrictions, and improving transparency and accountability.

The Framework replaces the previous 5-year action plans enacting the 2013 strategy with an overarching Tobacco and Vaping Framework, which will be underpinned by shorter action-focused 2-year implementation periods.

The new action plan was developed through engagement with a working group of public health experts, including ASH Scotland, Public Health Scotland, Cessation coordinators, academics and The Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland. Engagement also included views from the Poverty Alliance Scotland and from the 11th Citizen Panel for Health.

Open Call for experts for the Advisory Committee on Public Health Emergencies (PHE)

The European Commission have made a call for experts for the Advisory Committee on Public Health Emergencies (PHE).

The mission of the group at the request of the Commission or the Health Security Committee, carry out the tasks set out in Articles 23 and 24 of Regulation (EU) 2022/2371.

Although the Commission has considerable in-house expertise, it needs specialist advice from outside experts as a basis for sound policymaking. This may be provided by groups of experts or external consultants, or take the form of studies.

A Commission Expert group is explained here.

For more information and to apply see here – the deadline is 15 December.

Tackling antisocial behaviour

Preventing and addressing antisocial behaviour will be the focus of a new independently chaired working group being set up by the Scottish Government.

Members will look at the current approach and make recommendations on what long-term changes can be made to reduce such behaviour and support victims. It is expected that the group will provide regular updates and present their conclusions to Ministers by the end of 2024.

The new group was announced following the publication of a joint report on antisocial behaviour by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Community Safety Network.

Community Safety Minister Siobhian Brown, who is bringing together the working group, said:

“We want everyone to be, and feel, safe in their community and we are committed to tackling all forms of antisocial behaviour. Reported antisocial behaviour has broadly been in decline over the last decade, but the recent disorder on Bonfire Night, in particular, has shown that where issues arise, these can have a very serious impact for many people.

“The report published today recommends that we need to consider how we best develop our long-term approach to preventing and addressing this type of behaviour. That is why I will be convening an independently chaired working group. It is nearly 20 years since the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 was introduced and it is right that we examine whether this remains fit for purpose and that we assess our wider approach.

“I am grateful to those who took part in the engagement work with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Community Safety Network and shared their views and experience of antisocial behaviour. This report will inform the work of the new group.”

Director of the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice Fiona Dyer, who will be one of two chairs of the working group, said:

“I am really looking forward to working with colleagues to support the prevention of antisocial behaviour across Scotland. Research demonstrates the vital importance and value of better engaging, enabling, and supporting individuals and their communities to reduce incidents of antisocial behaviour.  

“Through encouraging actively social behaviour within local communities, we can collectively address current issues and develop an inclusive and effective strategy that Scotland will be proud of.”

Joint co-chair Lorraine Gillies, Chief Officer at the Scottish Community Safety Network, said:

“Ultimately, we believe victims will experience less antisocial behaviour with a changed approach, making our communities safer places. We believe in taking evidence-based approaches to what works to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour, focused on tackling root causes and working together with communities to find solutions.

“I welcome the publication of our co-authored report – written in partnership with the Scottish Government – and the announcement of an independent working group, set up to review antisocial behaviour in-depth. I look forward to pursuing this work and, in doing so, improving people’s lives.”

City of Edinburgh Council to investigate dog DNA database to tackle fouling

An Edinburgh councillor is calling for a Dog DNA register to be set up to tackle dog fouling across the capital.

The Conservative councillor tabled a motion on the problem at the Transport and Environment Committee on Thursday 16th November and calls for a report to be provided to the Committee presenting options to help combat dog fouling that includes improving enforcement, the use of Fixed Penalty Notices, and the practicalities of establishing a Dog DNA register for the city, how it could be enforced, likely costs to set up and run, and how much might be funded through issuance of fines.

The motion added that in 2021, only four fixed penalty fines were issued by City of Edinburgh Council reflecting the difficulties prosecuting under the current regime even though it only requires the evidence of one witness to justify a fine for dog fouling.

It also added that the number of dog fouling complaints raised by the public is low and mostly reflects apathy with lack of enforcement rather than concern about the problem.

The scheme would see dog owners having to register their pets with the council, allowing it to test samples of dog mess left in the street and issue fines accordingly.

Conservative Councillor Christopher Cowdy said efforts made so far by the authority to address the issue had not worked.

Councillor Cowdy admitted it “might take a couple of years” to get up and running but said Edinburgh could be the “vanguard for combating the national problem”.

He said: “I suppose I thought about a dog DNA test as being the only real way you can make out for definite whose dog did what.

“The general idea I’m thinking of is there would be an Edinburgh by-law that would require dog owners to register their dogs with the city council who would hold a database.

“You would be obliged to bring your dog, a DNA swab would be picked up from the dog and recorded on the database, and then if there could be a team of wardens searching for dog foul they would pick it up, take a test from it and hopefully track it down.”

He said: “There are obviously issues that most responsible dog owners pick up after their dog anyway, and irresponsible dog owners might not be inclined to register their dog in the first place.”

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “Tackling the issue of dog fouling is a priority for us – it’s unacceptable that a small minority of owners should leave dog’s dirt anywhere in the capital. 

“So I look forward to a report coming to a future committee exploring different ways of reducing this, on top of the work already being carried out by our Waste and Cleansing teams.”

The Cows are Mad podcast about BSE epidemic

The Cows Are Mad podcast available on BBC Sounds dives into the history of the 1990s BSE epidemic. 30 years on, scientists and activists are still searching for answers to two big questions: where did Mad Cow Disease originally come from and how did humans get infected?

The podcast centres on a deserted factory in Kent that processed cows suspected of infection and exposes its vital role during the BSE outbreak in the ’80s and ’90s.

The podcast also taps into the community’s anxieties, especially as science still can’t pinpoint the disease’s origins or how it jumped to humans. It’s a compelling listen that pairs well with mystery and real-life intrigue, leaving you considering unanswered questions.

The Cows Are Mad is a natural sciences podcast by BBC Radio 4.

New Food Standards Scotland and Food Standards Agency report highlights food safety and standards resourcing challenges

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have published their annual ‘Our Food’ report, which reviews food standards across the UK for 2022. This is the second report since the UK left the EU and is an independent and evidence-based annual assessment of food standards across all four nations.

Overall, food standards remained stable in 2022, despite pressures including inflation, labour shortages and the war in Ukraine. However, the report identifies shortages in key occupations needed to keep food safe, such as vets and food inspectors.

Without enough people with the right skills to deliver essential food controls, it will be more difficult to identify, monitor and respond to risks to food safety, leaving consumers and businesses vulnerable.

FSS and the FSA are calling on government, local authorities, professional bodies and industry to:

  • Address the decline in local authority Trading Standards officers, Environmental Health and Food Safety officers to ensure food standards are maintained;
  • Tackle the shortage of Official Veterinarians to protect animal health and welfare and trade and assure food hygiene standards;
  • Share more and better-quality information across the food industry to help stop criminal gangs and tackle food crime that costs the UK up to £2 billion per year; and
  • Introduce import controls on food imported from the EU to help reduce the risk of unsafe food entering the UK from the EU.

Confidence in the food system underpins an industry worth £240 billion and supports good animal welfare, farmers, food processors, international trade and the UK’s vibrant food culture.

Heather Kelman, Chair of Food Standards Scotland said: 

“It is encouraging to see that in 2022, amid several significant challenges both here in the UK and further afield, the overall safety and standards of our food has been upheld to the very high standards which we expect. 

“However, we must recognise the very significant challenges ahead and the potential problems that a lack of resourcing, specifically within environmental health officer and official veterinarian roles, may cause to the overall food system. It is now more important than ever for those who govern the system, as well as everyone involved in food production, retail and distribution, to work together to ensure food is safe and consumers and trade are protected. 

“It is critical that, together, we do everything we can to ensure we have a modernised system of assurance to support businesses that provide safe food for everyone and that the UK’s high food standards are maintained, in spite of the cost and workforce pressures we continue to face.”

Professor Susan Jebb, Chair of the Food Standards Agency, said:

“The food system across the UK experienced significant challenges throughout 2022, with the rising cost-of-living and inflation impacting grocery bills for consumers, and food businesses feeling the pressure of labour shortages and increased supply chain costs.

“Despite these pressures, I’m encouraged that our report indicates that overall, food standards have remained stable. However, food safety and standards hinge on good procedures and skilled people to ensure that the right checks are carried out. It takes time to recruit and develop these skills and we worry that without specific action to boost the workforce, specifically to recruit more official veterinarians and local authority inspectors, it will not be possible to maintain these high standards in the future.

“Failure to recruit and train professionals to key posts can have reverberations for many years to come. We ask governments across the UK, and others, to work with us to address these matters in the coming year so that people in the UK can continue to have food they can trust, and the strong reputation of British food abroad is maintained.”

Workforce data in the report shows a 14% decline in food hygiene posts in Local Authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the last decade, with over 13% of available posts vacant. In Scotland, the number of food law officers (undertaking both food hygiene and food standards work) has fallen by just over a quarter (25.5%) compared to 2016/17.

The number of UK food standards officers has fallen by 45% compared to 10 years ago. The UK veterinary profession has experienced a 27% decline in people joining the profession between 2019 and 2022, creating significant challenges in securing enough Official Veterinarians (OVs) for the future.

The report highlights the risks that come from these falling numbers. A lack of Official Veterinarians poses risks to animal health and welfare and the potential disruption of domestic food supply and the ability to export products of animal origin. Workforce pressure experienced by Local Authority teams risks hampering their capacity to conduct critical food safety and standards checks in food businesses.

Annual report on private water supplies published

The 2022 Annual Reports for Private Water Supplies has been published by Scotland’s Drinking Water Quality Regulator.

In 2022, the data provided to the DWQR by local authorities showed that there are 22,829 private supplies in Scotland. This data confirms that around 190,000 people live or work in premises that rely daily on a PWS. This is about 3.5% of the Scottish population. This figure, however, does not take into account the large numbers of people such as visitors and tourists who may use premises with a private water supply.

The majority of PWS are located in rural areas, though some are located in areas where there is a public supply of water available. Highland Council has the most regulated supplies, but Aberdeenshire has by far the largest number of PWS overall.

All Regulated supplies must be tested for a specific set of parameters (chemical and microbiological) that are important for public health. In 2022 the parameter with most failures was Coliform Bacteria, with 25% of samples failing this test. This compares with 23.1% in 2021. E. coli and pH were the next most commonly failing parameters, reflecting the lack of robust treatment on many private water supplies. Only one enforcement notice was issued by local authorities in 2022 for Regulated supplies.

Specific legislation and guidance is in place for PWS for local authorities. This includes The Water Intended for Human Consumption (Private Supplies) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 (“the 2017 Regulations” The Water Intended for Human Consumption (Private Supplies) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 ( and The Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (“the 2006 Regulations”) The Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (