Skip to main content

Water Supply: Framework Directive

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 24 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations the Government has made to the European Commission on revisions to the water framework directive. (138617)

The European Commission has proposed an amendment to the EC water framework directive (WFD). This is part of a wider package to align certain existing directives with the new comitology decision, which introduced a new regulatory procedure with scrutiny. If adopted, the amendment would include the European Parliament in the scrutiny of decisions made by the Article 21 Committee of the WFD. The UK and the European Commission are engaged in ongoing negotiations about this amendment.

Negotiations are also continuing on the WFD daughter directive on priority substances, including proposals to amend Annex X of the WFD. Again, the UK and the European Commission are engaged in this process.

No other representations have been made by the UK Government on revisions to the WFD.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding the Government plan to make available for the physical restoration of water bodies to meet the objectives of the water framework directive. (138624)

DEFRA is consulting on what measures may be needed to deliver water framework directive (WFD) requirements for hydromorphological conditions in water bodies, including restoration work. The consultation closes on 28 May 2007 and papers are available on the DEFRA website.

The competent authority is not in a position to know whether physical restoration is needed to achieve good status (the default objective of the WFD) until detailed investigations have been carried out on the impact of morphological changes on the ecological status of individual water bodies.

Where physical restoration is required, the competent authority must determine whether the cost of this work is in proportion to the environmental improvement to be gained. As an alternative, the WFD provides for the application of different status objectives on the grounds of disproportionate cost. Economic tools for determining disproportionate cost are being developed through a collaborative research programme led by DEFRA and involving different parties affected by the WFD, including central government, regulators, industry and non-government organisations.

It is not possible to assess how much funding may be required for physical restoration of water bodies until the investigation of need and analysis of cost effectiveness has been completed for draft river basin management plans, which will be issued for consultation in 2008. When better estimates are available, the provision of funding will need to be considered in future spending reviews.