The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2017 are scheduled to come into force on 10 April to consolidate amendments made since 2003.

They revoke and replace the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003/3242) (“the 2003 Regulations”) which have been amended by several instruments. The Regulations outline the duties of regulators in relation to environmental permitting, abstraction and impoundment of water.

Seven parts to the new Regulations

Regulation 3 imposes duties on the Secretary of State, Welsh Ministers, the Environment Agency (“the EA”) and Natural Resources Wales (“NRW”) to carry out certain functions so as to ensure compliance with the WFD, GWD and EQSD, in particular when deciding whether to grant, vary or revoke certain permits and licences which affect water quality, and to co-ordinate their actions relating to these three Directives.

The rest of the regulations consist of the following seven parts:

  • Part 2: Requires the identification of river basin districts, and a number of other assessments to be carried out by the EA and NRW to characterise and classify the status of water bodies in those districts, and assess the economic aspects of water use;
  • Part 3: Makes provision for certain protected areas;
  • Part 4: Sets out what monitoring of water quality the EA and NRW must undertake in relation to water bodies, including protected areas;
  • Part 5: Provides for the establishment of environmental objectives for each water body, and programmes of measures to meet those objectives. The remainder of Part 5 provides for the content and application of programmes of measures.
  • Part 6: Deals with river basin management plans (“RBMPs”) which must be established for each river basin district, and applies in relation to the most recent plans published under the 2003 Regulations, or (once plans have been revised) under these Regulations; and
  • Part 7 contains miscellaneous provisions.

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