Lack of Ambition in Water Management Policy

Under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), the Irish state is legally required to introduce new measures to bring our rivers, lakes and bays up to a good ecological state. However, the government’s plan for this, the draft third cycle River Basin Management Plan (2022 to 2027), as presented, falls far short of the required ambition. It lacks targeted, outcome-based actions to restore all impacted waters to good status and so it is not in line with either the Water Framework Directive or the Programme for Government.

More than half our rivers, lakes and estuaries are failing WFD mandatory standards of ‘good status’ and nutrient pollution is increasing, demonstrating that current policy and measures are not working. Despite this, the plan only proposes additional targeted measures for certain priority ‘Areas for Action’ without making clear how many at risk waterbodies are within these areas. Critically, the plan does not provide any targets for water improvements over its six years.

There is a clear political commitment in the 2020 Programme for Government to ‘ensure that the State complies with the EU Water Framework Directive’. However, the prioritisation approach to river basin management planning means that a significant proportion of Irish waterbodies will fail to meet the requirements of the WFD by the ultimate deadline of 2027. This approach would be indicative of a very low level of ambition and commitment on the part of the Irish government to protecting and restoring Ireland’s waters, and is not compliant with the WFD. In SWAN’s view, this is unacceptable.

SWAN continues to advocate for full implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive in Ireland, which includes planning and implementing targeted measures for all unhealthy and at risk waterbodies.


Read more:

SWAN Response to 3rd River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) Consultation

SWAN Response to Public Consultation on the Significant Water Management Issues for the third cycle River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2022-2027 – SWAN Submission, Aug 2020


Take Action:

Take action to increase the level of ambition in the draft River Basin Management Plan with SWAN’s Restore Our Waters Campaign.