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Water: EU Action

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to implement the Water Framework Directive; what account his Department will take of the interim conclusions and recommendations of the Pitt Review in implementing the Directive; and what (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation is required to implement the Directive. (178243)

The Environment Agency is the competent authority for most aspects of implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The Agency is currently working with stakeholders to develop river basin management plans which will be consulted on and then finalised by December 2009 as the Directive requires. The Government aims to achieve the objectives set out within the first river basin management plans by December 2015, and the measures to achieve this must be operational by 2012. We may consider earlier action to ensure WFD targets are met.

The WFD was transposed into English law by the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003. The existing legal framework for environmental protection, amended in some cases, provides a sufficient basis for most aspects of WFD implementation. DEFRA is reviewing existing measures relating to the physical structure of water bodies to ensure that the competent authority is able to act to safeguard morphological conditions where necessary. All legal measures have to be in place by 2009.

The WFD does not establish any objectives in relation to flood management, introduce any mechanisms for addressing flood risk or set objectives that exacerbate the risk of flooding.

The Government have accepted all the urgent recommendations from the interim report of the Pitt Review and will work with other organisations involved in taking them forward as quickly as possible.