DEFRA’s water environment proposals: 6 things you need to know

DEFRA is consulting on its plans to improve the water environment, which include getting tougher on abstractors, mandating drainage and wastewater plans and introducing a new charging methodology. Here’s what you need to know about the proposals

The river Itchen. Photograph: epfop/123RF
The River Itchen

DEFRA is consulting on its plans to improve the water environment, which include getting tougher on abstractors, mandating drainage and wastewater plans and introducing a new charging methodology. Here’s what you need to know about the proposals.

1 The Environment Agency (EA) would be able to amend abstraction licences in line with environmental targets. DEFRA wants to continue to crack down on abstractors by linking the removal of licences to environmental objectives without having to pay compensation to the licence holder. The EA would be able to make changes where the licence holder fails to meet environmental objectives under the Water Framework Directive as well as where there is failure to meet obligations relating to European sites as defined in Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, Ramsar sites, and sites of special scientific interest designated under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The EA would also be able to take action based on conserving biodiversity or habitat which “in the secretary of state's opinion are of principal importance for the purpose of conserving biodiversity as set out in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006”.

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