The Water Framework Directive - What is it?
The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) is a
proactive piece of environmental legislation that represented a
significant shift in emphasis for water management when it came
into force in December 2000.
Its purpose is to establish a framework for the protection of
all inland surface and ground waters, together with all estuarine
and coastal waters, which:
"prevents further deterioration and protects and enhances the
status of aquatic ecosystems and, with regard to their water needs,
terrestrial ecosystems and wetlands directly depending on aquatic
ecosystems" (Article 1).
It is a proactive piece of environmental legislation because it
requires the UK to put in place aspirational objectives for aquatic
ecosystems - and then to put in place a programme of measures in
order to achieve them.
These objectives and measures will be set out in a planning
document called a River Basin Management Plan. This will need
to integrate with existing planning requirements. Encouraging
the 'active involvement' of interested parties and stakeholders is
also a requirement at all stages in the planning process.