What is the Water Framework Directive?
In October 2000 the ‘Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 established a framework for Community action in the field of water policy’ (Water Framework Directive or WFD) was adopted and came into force in December 2000. The purpose of the directive is to establish a framework for the protection of inland surface waters (rivers and lakes), transitional waters (estuaries), coastal waters and groundwater. It ensures that all aquatic ecosystems and, with regard to their water needs, terrestrial ecosystems and wetlands meet ‘good status’ by 2015.
The directive requires Member States to establish river basin districts and for each of these to have a River Basin Management Plan. The directive envisages a cyclical process where River Basin Management Plans are prepared, implemented and reviewed every six years. There are four distinct elements to the river basin planning cycle:
- Characterisation and assessment of impacts on river basin districts;
- Environmental monitoring;
- The setting of environmental objectives; and
- The design and implementation of a programme of measures needed to achieve them.
The Water Framework Directive is implemented in the UK through the The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003 for England and Wales, the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 (WEWS Act) and The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 for Northern Ireland.
When do I need to get in touch?
In accordance with the Water Framework Directive, proposals that have the potential to impact ‘waterbodies’ are required to demonstrate that actions would not result in a deterioration in ‘ecological status’ and would not result in the relevant waterbodies being unable to achieve the relevant target ecological status.
Projects which directly affect the aquatic environment such as bridges, culverts, flood prevention schemes or abstraction permissions will require consideration of the potential effect of the proposal. If your project requires works in or around water, we advise consideration of compliance with the Water Framework Directive should be factored in as early as possible as it may have a significant influence on the design and construction programme.
How can EcoNorth help me?
EcoNorth works closely with engineers, hydrologists, marine planners and geomorphologists in addition to statutory agencies (Environment Agency / SEPA) to consider potential effects on water bodies, and identify mitigation requirements.