WFD: Draft River Basin Management Plans – estuarine and coastal implications

David Baxter
Deputy Director, Water Framework Directive, Environment Agency


Estuarine and Coastal waters constitute a significant part of England’s water environment. They support numerous activities and present a range of environmental challenges and economic interests that straddle the land-sea interface. The Water Framework Directive (WFD) provides a mechanism for managing the water environment throughout Europe, including estuarine and coastal waters. At its core is an ecosystem approach that requires measures to be taken to encourage the sustainable use of water and to protect and improve inland surface waters, groundwater and estuarine and coastal waters with the aim of achieving good status.

In order to effectively identify and manage the issues affecting estuarine and coastal waters, it is important that we work together, with numerous sectors, across the land-sea interface to agree achievable objectives and sustainable ways of working. Taking a Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) will particularly help in identifying local benefits of catchment management. Central to this is engagement of local stakeholders to establish common ownership of problems and their solutions, building partnerships to implement actions at the local level. The CaBA aim is to balance environmental, economic and social demands and align funding and actions within catchments to bring about long term improvements. CaBA empowers local action to improve the water environment through community partnerships.

Under the WFD, a management plan must be developed for each river basin district which includes estuaries and coasts. These river basin management plans (RBMPs) and the objectives and measures contained within them, must be reviewed every six years. The next set of updated plans is due in December 2015 and we are currently consulting on these proposed updates. Estuarine and coastal waters are considered throughout the formal consultation on the draft update to the river basin management plans, and to help navigate through the detail of the plans, we have produced an estuarine and coastal national summary document.

David will offer an overview of the RBMP process, specifically focussing on the proposed updates within estuarine and coastal waters. He will provide a high level overview of the current state, the challenges and the choices within estuarine and coastal waters and highlight the wider context and links with other plans and legislation.

We welcome all comments on the consultation which ends on 10th April 2015, it can be found on GOV.UK website (by searching “RBMP” or) For further information please visit the Environment Agency’s stand.

The Environment Agency is also currently consulting on Flood Risk Management Planning – FRMP.
These plans provide information on flood risk and show objectives and measures, including drawing from other plans and strategies. . The consultation ends on 31 January 2015.