Background to the stakeholder review

The Water Framework Directive sets out objectives for the water environment. These include the prevention of deterioration and protection, enhancement and restoration of surface water and groundwater. We need environmental standards and conditions in order to set the level of control to meet these objectives. For example, how much water can be abstracted, or how much of a pollutant can enter the environment, without causing harm to the health of aquatic plants and animals - harm that would compromise the achievement of the Directive’s objectives.

UKTAG is developing a range of environmental standards and conditions to underpin the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. The review has involved many of the UK’s leading independent experts in ecology, hydrology, geomorphology and chemistry. Monitoring results from across the UK and scientific literature from around the world has informed the process.

Since 2004, UK environment and conservation agencies, under the guidance of the UKTAG, have collaborated on a review of environmental standards for water quality, water flow and levels, as well as developing systems for assessing the physical structure and condition of rivers, lakes, estuaries and coasts.

UKTAG is taking a phased approach to developing environmental standards and conditions.  This is because progress may depend on outcomes from other work.  For example, UKTAG is involved in a European initiative known as Intercalibration. The aim of Intercalibration is to ensure that the boundaries for Good Ecological Status given by each Member State’s methods can be compared and that they are consistent with the Directive’s descriptions of Good Ecological Status.

The first phase of UK environmental standards and conditions included a stakeholder technical review in early 2006. (A final report on the first set of environmental standards and conditions has been published, along with a document providing a response to comments made by stakeholders.)

The second phase of UK environmental standards and conditions included a stakeholder technical review in 2007 (A final report on the second set of environmental standards and conditions, final report on specific pollutants and a final report on a groundwater classification framework  have been published, along with a document providing a response to comments made by stakeholders.)

The third phase of UK environmental standards and conditions has now closed. Stakeholders have commented on the technical development and scientific basis for the environmental standards. Please see the following link to look at these.