UK may stay bound to EU environment rules with little influence warns Water UK

The UK could find itself bound to European water environment rules post Brexit with little power to influence the legislation according to Water UK director of environment, Sarah Mukherjee.

Speaking to a cross party group of peers this week Mukherjee said, depending on what the UK signs up to in its remaining time within the EU, it could remain tied to the bloc's environmental regime. But the UK would have very little say in the rule reform and development – including the current review of the EU’s pivotal Water Framework Directive (WFD) – whether it opted for a “boutique” approach to water legislation or linked with EFTA members or other “extra-EU” countries.

Giving evidence to the EU energy and environment sub-committee, Mukherjee said Water UK’s membership of the European Federation of Water Industries – which includes EU member states as well as others including Norway and Switzerland – could be “the only way we could influence [the WFD] – one of the foundation structures for European aquatic environment legislation.” She went on to say the UK’s degree of influence under that scenario would not be significant.

She said were the UK to agree to mirror the WFD it would struggle to access the technical specifications required to do so. She warned that were the UK to go its own way it could end up with a niche “thrupenny bit” set of network technical specifications which could prove costly.