The EC Water Framework Directive applies to all member states and their regions. However the transposition and implementation of the Directive in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter. Policy responsibility for the implementation of the WFD in the four devolved areas lies with:
Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) in England
The Scottish Government in Scotland
The Welsh Assembly Government in Wales
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland
This section seeks to clarify the minor differences in the four devolved areas. To help with understanding of the WFD we have also included general information on each area relating to the water environment. Clicking on any of the bulleted highlights takes you to the next section.
The Secretary of State and Ministers set the policy framework and are responsible for approving objectives set out in River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs).
Much of the implementation work is undertaken by the Competent Authorities, which are:
The Environment Agency in England
Natural Resources Wales
SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) in Scotland
DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – Northern Ireland)
See also the following Information Note on this website:
In the UK, water quality is a devolved matter. While the overall requirements of the WFD must be met by the UK, each devolved Administration has implemented the requirements separately, and monitors and regulates requirements separately.
For further information see:
House of Commons Library – Research Briefings – Water Quality Commons Briefing papers CBP-7246
By Sara Priestly and Cassie Barton (published 26 July 2018)
This Commons Library Briefing Paper examines water quality in the UK, including EU requirements and potential impacts of Brexit. It sets out some key facts and figures for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, explains how water quality is measured and discusses action being taken by the Government to manage and improve water quality.
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