There has been inaccurate media coverage about Water Framework Directive statistics, with claims there have been delays to its publication.
Under the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2017, the Environment Agency is legally obliged to include data for every water body in England in the river basin management plans which are reviewed, updated and published every six years. The most recent full set of data was published in 2019, ahead of the 2021 river basin management plans, and the next full data set will be published in 2025.
This month the Environment Agency published a limited dataset that was collected between 2019 and 2021 to inform their work as well as that of other partners. The Environment Agency has deliberately targeted most of the sampling at water bodies with suspected problems to get evidence for investment (for example, from water companies and partners) where it is most needed. Local data on water quality, chemicals and hydrology is also shared and published as soon as it is available.
A Defra spokesperson said:
It is completely untrue to suggest that the water body data required to be published has been delayed.
The Environment Agency have just this month published another set of sampling results. This month's published sampling was focussed at water bodies with suspected problems so that the government and the EA can get the evidence for investment where it is most needed.
We are delivering our Plan for Water, with tighter regulation, tougher enforcement and more investment to improve water bodies across the country.
Read the Environment Agency's recent blog for further information on the water body data.