The Directive aims to safeguard a variety of water uses through cost-effective management of pollution sources within river basins. This will require the active co-operation of those who live, work or in some way have an impact on the water environment or have particular concerns about protecting the water resources.

The Directive encourages interested parties (also called stakeholders) to get involved in water management activities through Article 14.

Interested parties will typically encompass water consumers, recreational water users, industry (from small businesses to large organisations), the water industry, the agricultural industry, local government, planning authorities, educational organisations, landowners and special interest and environmental groups.

The Environment Agency website has information on a number of activities and related topics under the heading ‘How the Water Framework Directive will affect business sectors’:

This includes:

  • Agriculture and the WFD
  • Catchment abstraction management strategies and the WFD
  • Diffuse pollution and the WFD
  • Fisheries and the WFD
  • Spatial planning and the WFD

Working Together and Plan of Action consultations

The Environment Agency consulted on the Working Together documents, prepared for each River Basin District (RBD) in England and Wales, between 22 December 2006 and 22 June 2007. The documents were issued to help stakeholders to understand what the river basin planning process would be in each RBD and how and when they could get involved. They described proposed approaches prepared in collaboration with each RBD liaison panel, which represents the main sectors within the RBD involved in river basin planning.

For each RBD the consultation documents also listed the following:

  • Main public, private and voluntary sector organizations whose activities and interests are likely to be affected by the River Basin Management Plan
  • Plans and strategies relevant to river basin planning
  • Potential channels for stakeholder engagement on river basin planning

The consultation and response documents are available on the Environment Agency website:

Summary of Significant Water Management Issues (SSWMI) consultations

Significant Water Management Issues consultations ran from 24 July 2007 to 24 January 2008. For each RBD the consultation and supporting documents have been prepared together with the RBD’s liaison panels and set out what they believe to be the most significant issues that face the particular RBD. These were raised early in the process to give the stakeholders time to consider how best to address them. The information and proposals may affect environmental interests or businesses. It gives examples of what is already in place to tackle these issues, as well as additional measures that may be needed.

The consultation and supporting documents for each river basin district are available on the Agency’s website:


Results are seen in the River Basin Management Plans for each River Basin District (Annex L: Record of consultation and engagement).

Challenges and choices consultation

This is the second of three consultations that will help update the river basin management plans in 2015. Responses are sought at a local level by selecting the relevant river basin district consultation or at the national level through the ‘England’s waters’ consultation document which covers the issues for the whole country.

River basin district: Challenges and choices and strategic environmental assessments

This consultation takes place between 22 June and 22 December 2013 and asks for your views on the most significant issues for each river basin district in England. The Environment Agency is also seeking views on a strategic environmental assessment scoping document.


England’s waters: Challenges and choices (national)

This consultation takes place between 22 June and 22 September 2013 and covers all of England’s waters.


Wales: Challenges and choices consultation

This consultation takes place between 22 June and 22 December 2013. Documents for the Challenges and choices consultation for the Dee River Basin District and the Western Wales River Basin District are available on the Natural Resources Wales website.


‘Water Matters “Have your say”’, the SWMI reports for the four RBDs in Northern Ireland, were available for comments from 22 June to December 2007, and can be accessed at the Northern Ireland Environment Agency website:

‘Significant Water Management Issues – Digest of comments’ is also available at the above link.

The documents on SWMI in the Scotland RBD and the Solway Tweed RBD (available for comments until 08 April 2008) can be accessed at the SEPA website:




The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have produced ‘A Practical Guide to The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005’ (CAR).

The amended version can be viewed on the SEPA website:

The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (as amended) - A Practical Guide


In 2006 Scottish Ministers designated the following public bodies as ‘responsible authorities’ in relation to those of their statutory functions that have an impact on the water environment:

  • Local Authorities
  • Scottish Water
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Forestry Commission
  • British Waterways
  • Fisheries Committee
  • National Parks Authority
  • Salmon Fishery Board

The key requirements which responsible authorities must take into consideration when carrying out their functions are:

  • Avoid carrying out their functions in a way that is contrary to the aims and objectives of WFD
  • Have regard to the objectives set out in the River Basin Management Plan
  • Seek advice from SEPA where there may be potential implications for the water environment
  • Aim to achieve the most appropriate balance between protection of the water environment and social and economic impacts when exercising a function that may impact on the water environment
  • Comply with policy and advice on sustainable flood management
  • Keep each other updated throughout the development of plans and on work-in-progress, and resolve any possibility of conflict or duplication at the earliest possible opportunity

Details on the designation of responsible authorities can be found in the Policy
Statement on the Scottish Government website:

Consultations on developing the second river basin management plans for the Scotland and Solway Tweed river basin districts closed in February 2013. Summaries of the comments received and actions to be taken are available at:


An assessment of the current condition of the water environment in relation to its target condition, and a consultation on the significant water management issues for the second plans were published in 2014 in the Current condition and challenges for the future reports.

For further information see also web pages on the implementation of the WFD in Scotland on this website:





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