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Minister Alan Kelly publishes 2 key Water Framework Directive documents:

Published on Friday, 01 Aug 2014

Minister Alan Kelly publishes 2 key Water Framework Directive documents:


(a) Consultation Document for Second Cycle of River Basin Management Plans
(b) European Union (Water Policy) Regulations 2014

Mr. Alan Kelly, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, today announced two key steps in Ireland’s on-going implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD).  The Minister has published a consultation document on the Timetable and Work Programme for the development of the 2nd cycle of River Basin Management Plans. The Minister has also made new Regulations which re-assign functional responsibility for WFD implementation to local authorities, to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The Water Framework Directive was adopted in 2000 and requires member states to manage their water resources on an integrated basis in order to achieve at least ‘good’ ecological status.  The first cycle of River Basin Management Plans for Ireland was published in July 2010 and planning for the second cycle is underway. Today’s consultation document seeks the input of interested parties on the approach proposed for the second cycle of plans which will be adopted in 2017 and will run until 2021.

Following a review of first cycle structures, new governance and administration arrangements have been put in place.  In the second cycle, there will be a single national approach for the development of river basin management plans within the State. The technical analysis and planning tasks will be advanced on the basis of appropriate water or catchment management units to be decided by EPA. Specific administrative arrangements will be put in place to coordinate requirements with Northern Ireland in relation to cross-border waters, encompassing water management units in the Neagh-Bann, the North Western and the Shannon River Basin Districts which flow into or out of Northern Ireland.

A new three-tier governance structure has been established. At Tier 1, the key national actors – led by the Minister – will deal with policy and resource matters. The EPA will lead on the underpinning science at Tier 2 and local authorities at Tier 3 will lead on implementation, enforcement and public engagement at local river level.

The Minister recently signed the European Union (Water Policy) Regulations 2014, which give effect to these new structures and provide specifically for a Water Policy Advisory Committee to advise the Minister at Tier 1. These Regulations are available online here.

In announcing the changes, the Minister said “The new governance arrangements will bring clarity and certainty to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive.  I intend that the outcome will be robust and effective river basin management plans that will secure environmental objectives and underpin sustainable economic investment and growth.  Central to this is meaningful public participation and I would like to encourage all interested parties to engage fully in the consultation process.”

The Consultation Document is available on the Department’s website here.  the consultation period is open until 31 January 2015.