The Great Repeal Bill White Paper fails to give a clear commitment to carrying across the general principles in the EU treaties that underpin water policy, such as the goals of sustainable development and a high level of environmental protection, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.
The government has signalled its intention to continue to follow a catchment-based approach, which was introduced under the Water Framework Directive (WFD). However, it has not yet clear whether the principle aim of the WFD — to achieve good qualitative and quantitative status of all water bodies — will guide the catchment-based approach.
The UK government is working on a 25 year plan for the environment that may set out the direction for future water policy after the UK leaves the EU. However, this plan has been beset with delays for over a year and there is still no confirmed date for its publication. It remains unclear whether the plan would apply to England only, or across the whole of the UK.