The proportion of rivers expected to meet the criteria for the classification of good ecological status under the European water framework directive in England by 2015 is 29 per cent. This is as a result of measures implemented through the first set of River Basin Management Plans, to be published this month.
To date, we have met all the requirements of the European water framework directive as set out in the implementation timetable. The next key deadline is the publication of the River Basin Management Plans which we intend to publish on or before 22 December 2009, as required by the directive.
There are a number of mechanisms within the river basin management plans relating to diffuse pollution from agricultural sources, and non-agricultural sources. Non-agricultural sources can include run-off from transport, on-street activities such as car washing, industrial estates, forestry and leisure industries and discharges from contaminated land and disused mines. Examples of the mechanisms include the England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative which provides advice to reduce diffuse water pollution from agriculture and the pesticides statutory code of practice.
There are also a significant number of investigations contained within the plans which will enable a greater understanding of the sources and causes of diffuse pollution and will provide the evidence base to require further action.
In addition we will continue to demonstrate our commitment and bring forward significant work including Water Protection Zones, sustainable drainage systems, and deal with misconnections into the surface water sewer network.
Full details of mechanisms for diffuse pollution will be published on the Environment Agency's website at:
on 22 December 2009, in Annex F “Mechanisms for action”.
During the first round of river basin management plans, action will be taken at 26 sites which will protect habitats directive sites.
Through developing the river basin management plans we have identified areas where we need to undertake further investigations to increase our certainty on the causal links between abstraction pressure and the achievement of ecological status. The Environment Agency will investigate approximately 300 sites where the abstraction pressure is greatest to improve its understanding, and where appropriate propose further action to tackle the problems during the first cycle.
The Environment Agency is the competent authority in respect of the water framework directive, and it has the responsibility for engagement and developing plans at the local level.
In some places there will be added value from adopting more detailed catchment plans to help deliver River Basin Management Plan objectives during the planning cycles and it supports the pilot project on the River Kennett to produce an implementation plan.
The Environment Agency will share the knowledge gained through this pilot with other River Basin Liaison Panels, to help identify other catchments that could benefit from a similar approach.