Water: Standards

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 8th January 2018.

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Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Labour, Cambridge

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure (a) the retention of high water standards in the UK and (b) international cooperation in water regulation in the event that the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We have a strong track record on protecting our water environment. We have improved more than 5,300 miles of rivers since 2010. The water environment is in the healthiest state for 25 years with otters, salmon, sea trout and other wildlife returning to many rivers for the first time since the industrial revolution.

The EU Withdrawal Bill will ensure that the whole body of existing EU environmental law continues to have effect in UK law and that the same protections for the water environment are in place. The Bill will preserve the laws that have transposed EU directives, including the Water Framework Directive, the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, and the Drinking Water Directive.

We have committed to enhancing environmental standards as we leave the EU. We will consult on a new independent, statutory body to hold government to account and enforce standards for environmental protection.

We remain committed to internationally recognised environmental principles and cooperation on water quality. The UK is a party in its own right to a number of multilateral agreements on water. These include the 1971 Ramsar Convention on the Conservation and Protection of Wetlands, the 1997 Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses, and UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation. We will continue to uphold our international obligations under these agreements.

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