Water Framework Directive

The Water Framework Directive is European legislation which promotes water management through river basin planning. The Water Framework Directive (WFD) introduces a holistic approach to the management of water quality and establishes a system for the protection and improvement of all water bodies, including rivers, estuaries, groundwater, lakes and coastal waters. The Directive is the foundation for changes that will take place in the management of the water environment in Wales.

The Directive requires all inland and coastal waters to reach at least “good status” by 2015. The Directive encourages greater public engagement and participation in developing the future management of our water environment.

River basin management planning

In Wales there are three River Basin Districts. One of these, the Western Wales River Basin District, is contained and managed wholly in Wales. The other two are cross-border with England: the Severn River Basin District and the Dee River Basin District. The Environment Agency leads on the development of the Severn River Basin Management Plan, whilst Natural Resources Wales leads on the development of the Dee River Basin Management Plan.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Welsh Government published two documents relating to the updating of River Basin Management Plans (external link) in May 2014:

  • Updated statutory ministerial  guidance to the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW)
  • Summary and analysis of consultation responses to the ‘Draft River Basin Planning Guidance’.

Consultation on the proposed update to Wales’ river basin management plans 2014 – 2015

Natural Resources Wales and the Environment Agency are currently consulting on draft revised river basin management plans that will set objectives for Wales’ rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal and ground waters for 2015 – 2021.

The Environment Agency (EA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) will submit a proposed updated plan to Ministers in Autumn 2015.  If approved, the updated plan will be published in December 2015.

Natural Resources Wales’ consultation on the proposed updates to Wales’ river basin management plans ended on 10 April 2015.

More information

More information on the Water Framework Directive, including River Basin Management Plans, can be found at Natural Resource Wales.

Following public consultation, more information on approved plans and supporting documentation is available on Natrual Resources Wales’ website: https://naturalresources.wales/water/quality.