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A Strategic Partnership between Defra and the Association of River Trusts to test measures for tackling diffuse pollution from agriculture - WT0930

Full Title: A Strategic Partnership between Defra and the Association of River Trusts, to test measures for tackling diffuse pollution from agriculture and assess what role there is for innovative approaches like paid ecosystem services to meet the aims of the Water Framework Directive.

The Water Framework Directive requires Member States to set out a programme of measures in each River Basin Management Plans that will deliver “good ecological status” in all water bodies by 2015. In England only 27% of water bodies are reaching this standard and the measures in the plans are expected to improve this to 32% by 2015. A significant reason for failure (for approximately 40% of water bodies) is the impact of diffuse pollution from agriculture (pesticides, nutrients, sediment, bacteria).

Defra’s strategy to address diffuse water pollution from agriculture consists of advice, incentives (e.g. water company, agri-environment schemes) and targeted regulation. Defra and the EA have been criticised by the NAO and others for not setting out a clear framework for how these measures will be applied at catchment level. Defra is also under pressure to set out the role of future regulation (e.g. Water Protection Zones) in delivering WFD.

Before setting out the role for regulation this project seeks to determine if modifications can be made to the exiting suite of incentives to ensure they can be efficiently targeted and to consider the role of innovations such as Paid Ecosystem Services - such that there needs to be less reliance on regulation to deliver WFD objectives (specifically drinking water in this project).
1. Through a new external partnership with the Association of Rivers Trusts (ART), facilitate and equip three Rivers Trusts with the resources to fill the knowledge gap for national Water Framework Directive (WFD) assessment.

2. Improve linkages between policy makers, policy deliverers, and beneficiaries of policy. This project will involve close collaboration between ART, Defra and Water Companies who run catchment management schemes , to share information and jointly seek solutions to a complex natural resource management problem and establish a means for different actors to work together to deliver the ecosystem services that clean drinking water can deliver. Currently these different parties work largely in isolation and as such this project would develop a cross-functional team which would enhance knowledge exchange and drive efficient delivery.

3. Determine how WFD objectives might be achieved with the current measures set out in the WFD plans and alternatively through a paid ecosystem services approach (using both public and private funding sources). The selected catchments will be focused on important resources for drinking water but will also capture the multiple ecosystem benefits that derive from protecting these resources (biodiversity, carbon etc)

4. Link WFD assessment to catchment management schemes and therefore increase ambition of the River Basin Plans by levering external investment (all water bodies to reach good ecological status by 2015, and no deterioration in any water body classification).

5. Increase ownership of WFD measures by third sector co-deliverers and local stakeholders.

6. Provide facilities and incentive for Rivers Trusts to share and use commonly acquired data for catchment and waterbody restoration

7. Develop a clear and unambiguous roadmap to assist Defra in rolling out the policy on tackling diffuse pollution from agriculture and provide insights into possible strategies to implement broader catchment management schemes.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : The Rivers Trust DSEPP Report   (15861k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2010

To: 2011

Cost: £138,105
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Association of Rivers Trusts
Water Framework Directive              
Water Quality