DoE plans for river quality objectives under fire

Proposals for statutory water quality objectives (SWQOs) put out for consultation by the Department of the Environment (DoE) face further modification following objections from the water industry and its regulator, OFWAT. Environmental organisations claim that the improvements in river quality promised by the Government have already been irretrievably compromised by policy changes since SWQOs were first mooted seven years ago.

SWQOs will be set by the Secretary of State on a catchment-by-catchment basis on advice from the National Rivers Authority (NRA). They will establish legally binding targets for river quality to be achieved by specified dates, and will form the basis for setting consents for sewage and industrial discharges.

The NRA's original proposals for SWQOs were issued in December 1991 (ENDS Report 203, pp 10-12), but were substantially simplified a

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