The EC Water Framework Directive An Introductory Guide

Revised September 2010

Over the past 30 years, a series of EC Directives have had a major influence on UK water law and regulation. They addressed priority issues such as water quality objectives for waters used for specific purposes, the control of dangerous substances, the protection of the sea against pollution, the preservation of the fundamental biological and ecological balances of the planet and the adoption of industry specific measures to reduce pollution.

In the 1990s there was concern at the fragmented nature of existing Directives and the lack of progress with their implementation. Inadequate measures for the protection of groundwater were also of concern. In addition there was pressure for a Directive to protect aquatic ecosystems. This culminated in the development, by the European Commission, of a proposal for a more comprehensive approach to water policy. The outcome was the Water Framework Directive adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in October 2000.

The Directive is the most substantial piece of water legislation ever produced by the EC, and will provide the major driver for water policy in the UK for the foreseeable future. It embodies the principles of sustainable development (environmental, economic and social). At the heart of the Directive is river basin management planning and the following requirements: -

The purpose of this guide is to introduce the Water Framework Directive to a wide audience. Article 14 of the Directive requires Member States to encourage the active involvement of all interested parties in its implementation. In particular public consultation is essential during the production, review and updating of the river basin management plans that form the central theme of the Directive. For public consultation to be meaningful people will need a basic understanding of the principal features of the Directive and how these relate to the situation in their own local river basin.

This guide contains 32 pages and has a Bibliography containing 19 references. Copies of the Guide are available from the Foundation, price 15.00, less 20% to FWR members

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