U.K. Water Framework Directive before Parliament

A key stage in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive was reached recently when the Regulations were laid before Parliament.

Dec 19th, 2003

Dec. 19, 2003 -- A key stage in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive was reached recently when the Regulations were laid before Parliament.
The regulations include:

* The framework for delivery of the Directive's environmental objectives. The quality of rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwaters must be protected and enhanced by 2015.

* Wetlands depending on groundwater must be safeguarded and water related requirements of other Community legislation taken into account.

* Integration into packages of measures and plans based on river basins, which must be drawn up with full public participation.

Also published on the Defra website a final Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) as well as a summary of the views of those who commented on the most recent consultation on the Directive, and a Government response to their comments.

Welcoming the Regulations the Environment Minister, Elliot Morley, said:

"Transposition of this Directive into national legislation is the first step in transforming the way water is managed, protected and valued by everyone.

"The Water Framework Directive will also look to adopt an holistic approach to its environmental objectives measuring not just the chemical quality of a particular stretch of water but its ecological status. In doing so, it will look at living things in the water - wildlife, flora, , nutrient conditions, specific pollutants, the dynamics of water flow, impacts of human activity on water basins.

"This will also help to carry forward the Government's wider objectives for sustainable development. "

"There is much more to come. As an indication of the Government's commitment to full and transparent implementation, a list of likely further actions which will follow from the Regulations is outlined in the Ministerial Statement I have today made. The list of those actions is attached with this press release." [editor's note: for this information, visit http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2003/031211a.htm]

The Secretary of State has ultimate responsibility for the Directive's implementation. This includes:

* An explicit role in approving environmental objectives, programmes of measures and river basin management plans;

* The power to issue guidance to the Agency and other relevant bodies, to which they are bound to have regard.

The Environment Agency as competent authority has responsibility to:

* Characterise river basin districts;

* Identify bodies of water used for the abstraction of drinking water;

* Prepare, review and keep up to date a register of protected areas for each river basin district;

* Establish programmes to monitor water status, so as to establish an overview of water status within each river basin district;

* Prepare and submit to the 'appropriate authority' (i.e. Secretary of State and/or National Assembly for Wales) environmental objectives for each body of water and programmes of measures;

* Prepare and submit to the appropriate authority a river basin management plan for each district (including consultation, publicity and taking account of views) and supplementary plans.

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