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  • by Karma Loveday

Environment Agency consults on next round of river basin and flood risk plans

The Environment Agency is consulting until 22 April 2022 on draft River Basin Management Plans for the next six year period.

These are designed to protect and improve the water environment, and will be an important tool in helping the Government to deliver its 25 Year Environment Plan target of improving at least three-quarters of waters to be as close to their natural state as soon as practicable.

The consultation points to pressures from the climate and biodiversity crises, population growth and damage to river environments caused by development, industry, flood protection and agriculture. It cautioned: “Without concerted action, irreparable harm will be done to the water environment and the goods and services it provides, impacting lives and livelihoods, now and for future generations. Urgent action is needed to protect and improve England’s waters and find a better balance that meets the needs of people and nature.”

This consultation covers the draft plans for all river basin districts that are entirely in England, along with those for the Severn and Northumbria which lie partly in Wales and Scotland respectively.

The Environment Agency is also consulting until 21 January 2022 on draft Flood Risk Management Plans for 2021-27. FRMPs are strategic plans that contain actions for the flood risk areas identified in 2017 for surface water flooding, and in 2018 for river and sea flooding.

  • The Environment Agency has declared Brexit as an opportunity to "reset" environmental regulation to be "business friendly as long as business does the right thing." In his foreword to the agency's annual Regulating for People, the Environment, and Growth report for 2020 chief executive, Sir James Bevan, said: "Leaving the European Union gives us a chance to reset the dial on the outcomes we want and how to achieve them."

Bevan warned that "Effective regulation also needs to be properly funded," and emphasised that ""those who pose the greatest risk of pollution – farmers, water and sewage companies, waste businesses and so on – should pay the full cost of the regulation necessary to ensure that pollution doesn’t happen. Where that isn’t possible, and sometimes it isn’t, the government should make up the difference."


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