European legislation & regulation

Water Framework Directive

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) became UK law in December 2003. The aim of the Directive is to provide the opportunity to plan and deliver a better water environment, focusing on ecology. It aims to improve and integrate the way water bodies are managed throughout Europe and introduce a simple and consistent approach to water management.


The Directive will help to protect and enhance the quality of:

  • surface freshwater (including lakes, streams and rivers)

  • groundwaters

  • groundwater dependant ecosystems

  • estuaries

  • coastal waters (out to one mile from low-water).


The Environment Agency is the lead authority responsible for delivering the WFD in the England and Wales, and in Scotland this is the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). Their responsibilities include:


  • improvements on inland and coastal waters through better land management. And protect them from diffuse pollution in urban and rural areas

  • drive wiser, sustainable use of water as a natural resource

  • creating better habitats for wildlife that live in and around water

  • creating a better quality of life for everyone.


The Directive also states that Member States must have reached ‘good’ chemical and ecological status in inland and coastal waters by 2015. Derogations can be applied for that extend the deadline.   ‘Good’ is quantified by each individual member state and is based on their own geography and ecology. For the UK Defra has published identifiable indicators and exact figures for the measurement of ‘good’ quality.


For further information click here 


Floods Directive

The Directive was proposed by the European Commission in 2006. The aim of the directive is to manage the risks that floods pose to human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity. It applies to inland and coastal water across the whole territory of the EU. 


All member states should have undertkane preliminary assessment by the end of 2011 to identify the river basins and associated coastal areas at risk of flooding. Following this flood risk maps should have been drawn for areas at risk from future flooding by 2013 with flood risk management plans established by 2015.


For further information click here.


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