Interpreting the requirements of the Water Framework Directive
We used our extensive scientific knowledge to develop criteria and thresholds for each of the parameters that contribute to Good Ecological Status and Good Chemical Status. The guidance has now been incorporated as part of the new Marine Licensing regime under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
To comply with the Water Framework Directive (WFD), the Environment Agency as competent authority must ensure that water bodies achieve both good ecological status and good chemical status by 2015. In certain cases, for example where use of a water body has changed its physical characteristics, water bodies can be designated as heavily modified or artificial water bodies and an alternative objective of good ecological potential must be achieved. Waters in England and Wales have been divided into river basin districts and a new, statutory river basin management plan (RBMP) has been prepared for each district. These RBMPs identify the pressures and risks affecting a river basin and describe a series of measures (actions) that must be taken to achieve the 2015 objective.
HR Wallingford, supported by independent consultants, developed a guidance framework to help ensure that marine dredging and disposal activities are WFD-compliant. The guidance comprises a series of processes (screening, scoping, assessment and identification of measures) which lead the user through the consideration of the effects of a dredging or disposal activity on the various parameters of importance to the WFD. Advice is also provided on the implications of the outcome of these processes for the regulatory processes. The guidance, which the Environment Agency has entitled Clearing the Waters, is part of the licensing regime under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
This guidance provides regulators, harbour authorities and developers with the tools to interpret a very complex piece of water legislation.