Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Environment Agency (J 24(a))


  1.  The Agency began its WFD project in November 2000 immediately preceding the signing of the Directive. No funds had been allocated or committed specifically for the WFD before that date. However the Agency, through its general role of giving specialist technical advice to Government, made a substantial input to assist the development of the UK position including during the UK Presidency.

  2.  The role of the Agency to date has been to continue to assist Defra in preparation for the Directive. Following the proposal in the first Government consultation document that the Agency should be the Competent Authority in England and Wales, a Programme Plan has been developed, funds allocated and staff appointed to fulfil that role. The Agency Programme Team has been supported by bought-in consultancy resources and this is expected to continue, certainly for the first phase, that is up to the delivery of the initial basin characterisation at the end of 2004. In the statistics that follow no distinction is made between in-house and consultant FTEs (full time equivalents) since they will be deployed flexibly as the programme progresses.

  3.  The Programme Plan budget requirements, initially estimated for the Agency to be Competent Authority for full implementation of the Directive in England and Wales, are set out in Table 1 below.

Table 1

2001-022002-03 2003-042004-05 2005-062006-07
Total (£k)6382,307 4,5254,5256,100 6,100

  These are the Agency's set up and implementation costs including staff, support systems monitoring and preparation and consultation on river basin management plans under the Directive. They take account of and do not duplicate existing Agency monitoring, regulation and liaison activities.

  The figures in Table 2 below represent the expected increased staffing levels in FTE (full time equivalents) both Agency staff and consultants required by the Programme to deliver the requirements of the Directive.

Table 2

2001-022002-03 2003-042004-05 2005-062006-07
Staff FTE1246 7070112 112

  4.  Current staffing levels at November 2002, including Programme Team, consultants and business support outside the project team is 40 FTE.

  5.  Increasing the scale of effort in line with the project plan is dependent upon the outcome of the Agency's resource bid as part of Spending Review 2002 in which we submitted bids in line with Table 1. Current indications from Defra are that this bid will not be met. We are currently reviewing the critical programme components and the potential implications of changes across the Agency to consider how the scale and scope of the work to be done can be modified in the light of the likely funding shortfall. This will include the following strategies:

    —  departing from the published timetable for the catchment abstraction management strategies (CAMS) so that elements of the work can be completed for the whole country by the end of 2004;

    —  significantly reducing the amount of additional monitoring data available for characterisation; and

    —  curtailing database development which will reduce ease of access of partners and stakeholders to complementary datasets.

  6.  Even so, we consider that we cannot do the work to sufficient standard to meet Directive requirements without increasing the existing programme budget for the implementation of the Directive. We will therefore need to discuss with Government which other activities we can delay or reduce in scope, to provide the additional necessary resource of approximately £1.5 million in both 2003-04 and 2004-05. Table 3 shows the minimum additional resource that the Agency needs, either as new resource or reallocation of existing resources, to implement the Directive to an acceptable level.

Table 3

2001-022002-03 2003-042004-05 2005-062006-07
Total (£k)6382,307 3,8003,8005,300 5,600

  7.  Annex 1 to this memorandum shows the structure of the component projects.

  8.  Annex 2 to this memorandum is the milestone project plan showing key deliverables under the Agency's WFD project up to the end of 2015.

Environment Agency

20 November 2002

Annex 1


  All project have not yet been initiated:

    —  Communications: Programme communications at each of the following levels:

    1.  WFD Programme.

    2.  Internal Agency.

    3.  External including Defra, Europe and all other stakeholders:

    —  Business Review: Policy and strategic analysis of how the WFD impinges on all existing Agency structures, policies, vision, and operational activities, and how these may need to change in order to deliver the WFD in the most effective way.

    —  Environmental Monitoring Assessment and Classification: monitoring, assessment and classification strategy for the WFD, the technical capability required for its implementation and relevant guidance. The project will also influence and take into account the development of monitoring and analyses of the CEN and ISO Committees.

    —  River Basin Characterisation: To enable the Agency to carry out analyses according to the technical specifications set out in Annexes II and V of the Directive. The project will deliver the technical capability for the characterisation of each River Basin District and the initial register of protected areas. This project will also carry out the initial characterisation required by 2004.

    —  River Basin Planning: To deliver the capability to ensure that the Agency can produce a comprehensive river basin management plan for each River Basin District. The project will provide guidance on the structure, format and information requirements for the RBMP and guidance on the appraisal of options including an appraisal of the cost effectiveness of the options.

    —  Research and Development: To support the other WFD projects in identifying, initiating, co-ordinating and prioritising a series of R&D work packages required by the projects to enable the implementation of the Directive.

    —  Information Systems: To support the other WFD projects in identifying, initiating and managing the IS requirements and managing delivery of the products in a timely and effective manner.

    —  Priority and Hazardous Substances: To enable the Environment Agency to inform Defra of the environmental relevance of substances proposed for inclusion on the Priority List and advise on appropriate targets and emission limits. It will also support Defra in further development and refinement of the Priority Substance selection process.

    —  Programme of Measures: To take the outputs from River Basin Planning to identify those measures that need to be taken for each River Basin District so that its environmental objectives are met.

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Prepared 16 December 2002