What is a Water Protection Zone (WPZ)?
Water Projection Zones (WPZs) will be a regulatory mechanism to address diffuse water pollution and hydro-morphological damage that will lead to failure of Water Framework Directive (WFD) objectives. A WPZ will be a defined geographical area in which we have additional powers to protect water. We will be able to use measures to manage or prohibit activities which cause or could cause damage or pollution of water.
How will we use WPZs?
WPZs are a relatively untried mechanism. Our national project will aim to refine our understanding and ‘establish the concept’ for using WPZs through a small number of ‘candidate sites’ in 2009/10. These sites will represent a variety of pressures and issues.
Why do we need WPZs?
Diffuse water pollution is a serious problem in some parts of England and Wales. It is caused by many small or scattered sources, such as the spraying of chemicals on fields or pavements, or runoff from fields and construction sites. It represents a widespread and long-term threat to the ecology of lakes, rivers and coastal waters, and to the quality of groundwater. Expert analysis has shown that in some areas of England, we need to do more to reduce diffuse pollution.
A joint public consultation was held by Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) between 22 December 2008 – 31 March 2009, on the Draft Statutory Instrument to amend provisions of the Water Resources Act 1991 for Water Protection Zones, and related Draft Statutory Guidance for the Environment Agency. This was to widen the legislation, increasing its scope to tackle Diffuse Water Pollution and protect the morphology of surface water bodies.
What happens next?
Where designation may be appropriate we will assess the potential environmental, financial and social impacts and then consult on sites individually. We will target and justify WPZs using robust evidence. We will tailor controls within each WPZ to meet the biggest risks, rather than produce a list of prohibited activities that apply to every business.
There will be an extensive dialogue about feasibility and options, both internally and with individuals and organisations with an interest in this work, before we make any formal proposals. There will also be a 12-week public consultation focusing on the specific content of individual WPZs.
To find out more about WPZ’s and the consultation visit the links below: