Have your say on how to protect and improve the water environment in Northern Ireland

Date published: 19 April 2021

Environment Minister Edwin Poots has published the draft third cycle River Basin Management Plan for public consultation.


The Draft Plan involves all our water bodies, including rivers, lakes, coastal and groundwater and will cover a six-year period from the start of 2022 to the end of 2027. The public’s views are being sought on the measures within it to protect and improve our water environment and tackle the pressures impacting on it.

The Plan highlights that the water environment in Northern Ireland remains under pressure from human activity, most of which is related to agriculture and wastewater.

Since the last River Basin Management Plan was published in 2015 the status of our water bodies has remained virtually unchanged, with 38 % being at ‘good or better’ status, compared to 37% of bodies in 2015. This is well below the target level set in 2015 of 70% of water bodies at ‘good or better’ status by 2021. Whilst coastal & transitional water bodies remain almost unchanged, our rivers and lakes have shown some deterioration.

Welcoming the consultation, Minister Poots said: “Everyone in Northern Ireland has a role to play in protecting and improving our water environment. This includes reducing pollution, supporting efforts to improve water quality and reducing water consumption and therefore the volume of waste water being generated.”

“Water is essential to our health and wellbeing, our bodies use it to enable our cells, organs, and tissues help regulate body temperature and maintain other bodily functions. It is also the lifeblood of our economy - we rely on it for our agriculture, food and drink, manufacturing, tourism and recreation and much more. Good quality water is also vital to enable our biodiversity and ecosystems to survive and flourish.”

The Minister concluded: “I urge everybody to have their say on this important consultation. The quality of our water matters to all of us and I welcome the public’s views on the issues we face and how best to address them.”

The Draft River Basin Management Plan can be downloaded from: www.daera-ni.gov.uk/consultations/consultation-draft-3rd-cycle-river-basin-management-plan-2021-2027. The Consultation closes on 10 October 2021.

Notes to editors: 

1. The current (2nd cycle) River Basin Management Plan runs from 2015-2021 and set out a programme of measures to be implemented during that period and designed to deliver improved water status.

2. DAERA has published the draft 3rd cycle River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) for public consultation. The final RBMP is due to be published in December 2021. The final third cycle RBMP will cover a six year period from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2027.

3. The publication of this consultation is a statutory requirement under the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017and is open for six months. The consultation ends on 10 October 2021.

4. It is recognised that Northern Ireland will have to deal with the significant pressures on the water environment in the third-cycle river basin management plan running from 2022 to 2027 and that the main pressures are due to agriculture and waste water related impacts.

5. Improving water quality is a cross-cutting issue and the two main government departments for implementing measures to improve water body status are the Department for Infrastructure and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. However, this is a wider issue and everyone within Northern Ireland has a role to play in reducing pollution and supporting efforts to improve water quality.

6. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office: pressoffice.group@daera-ni.gov.uk

7. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook

8. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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