Welsh Government PhD Placement: Assessment of the Water Framework Directive approach in Wales

Deadline for submission of applications: 15th July @ 15:00hrs (BST)

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) promotes and integrated, holistic approach to water management by river basin, a natural geographical and hydrological unit. There are three river basins in Wales: Western Wales which lies wholly in Wales, and the River Dee and the River Severn which are cross border basins with England. The WFD requirements are implemented via River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) which are developed on a six yearly cycle. We are currently in Cycle 3. Cycle 1 run from 2009 to 2015 and Cycle 2 from 2015 to 2021. RBMPs are the main mechanism for improving water quality.

The integrated catchment-based methodology promoted by the WFD has shown positive results and a gradual improvement in water quality, evidenced by the latest classification results. 40% of Wales’ waterbodies are classed as achieving good ecological status (GES) at present. The 2021 data shows 8% improvement in water quality since the first classification released in 2009.

It is necessary to evaluate the success of the WFD approach critically before the end of the third cycle of RBMPs, given that the legally binding and ambitious target to achieve GES for all waterbodies is 2027. The successful candidate will be tasked to complete a desk-based review of how the WFD has been implemented in Wales so far, comparing its delivery to other parts of the UK and Europe. The work will require engagement with key stakeholders such as Natural Resources Wales (NRW), water companies and NGOs for input. The desk-based assessment and collation of feedback will form the basis of developing policy options for the future of WFD in Wales in a final report, outlining advantages and risks associated with the selected approaches.

The remit of this placement falls under the portfolio of the Minister for Climate Change and supports delivery objectives identified under primary legislation such as the Environment Act and Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

The placement will be in the Welsh Government’s water policy team. The team is responsible for developing bespoke policy for Wales to manage its water systems sustainably, including inland waters, estuaries and coastal waters. The team also oversees the effective functioning of Wales’ water industry and safeguards drinking water quality in line with statutory specifications.

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