Ministers O’Brien & Noonan meet An Fóram Uisce to commence public consultation phase of the next River Basin Management Plan
Today, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, and the Minister of State with responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, held a meeting with members of An Fóram Uisce (The Water Forum) to mark the opening of the public consultation on the draft River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2022-2027. The public consultation begins on Tuesday 28 September 2021 and ends on Thursday 31 March 2022 at 5pm.
This vital plan will set out the environmental objectives that must be achieved to put in place the measures that will protect and restore our rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters by the end of 2027, together with actions to ensure those objectives are achieved. Under the Water Framework Directive (WFD), Ireland is required to produce a River Basin Management Plan every six years to protect and improve water quality.
The Plan sets out over one hundred proposed measures, including:
Provisional data indicates that the Priority Areas for Action (a key element of the 2018-2021 River Basin Management Plan) are helping to improve water quality. Twenty-one per cent of rivers in Priority Areas for Action (those identified for targeted measures) have seen improved water quality. Thirteen per cent of rivers outside of these areas saw improvement. This indicates that targeted measures are helping to improve water quality. Nevertheless, a large number of river waterbodies are still declining.
The plan will also see an increase in the number of Areas for Action with 527 areas proposed for focused attention in the third cycle, up from 190 in the second-cycle.
Water quality analysis indicates that agriculture, hydromorphology (physical changes to habitat conditions and water flows), forestry and urban waste water are the main pressures on water quality.
Commenting on the opening of the consultation Minister O’Brien said:
“Ireland has made substantial progress in how we manage our water services and how we work together to protect and improve water quality. However, water quality is still in decline. People, nature, and our economy all rely on healthy and well protected water catchments. Working together, through a new and strengthened River Basin Management Plan, will put us on course to achieve our environmental objectives and deliver the clean waters that are vital for protecting public health, supporting economic growth and preserving our environment.”
Minister of State Noonan said:
“The River Basin Management Plan process is founded on stakeholder participation and involvement – Minister O’Brien and I are particularly keen to see an inclusive process where all voices and ideas are heard. Key to this will be engaging with stakeholders and with communities at a national and local level.
I would encourage everyone to participate and to express your views as these will help inform and improve the plans and programmes and wider policy developments that impact our waters.”
Copies of the consultation document and supporting materials are available for download on the Department’s website at www.gov.ie/draftRBMP. The final date for responses in respect of this consultation is Thursday, 31 March 2022.