LIFE-IP RBMP-NWRBD UK - Integrated water management approach to delivery of the North West England River basin management plan

LIFE14 IPE/UK/000027

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Contact details:

Contact person: Damian Crilly
Email: damian.crilly@environment-agency.gov.uk

Project description:


One third of the poorest quality rivers in England and Wales are currently found in the North West (England) River Basin District (NW RBD). A range of factors combine in the NW RBD, which create several significant challenges to meeting the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). These factors make the NW RBD an ideal location for implementing actions to help improve delivery of WFD Annex VII (river basin management plans) and to demonstrate solutions for problems relevant to the rest of the European Community. These problems include:

  • High urban population densities located at relatively short distances from the sea;
  • Wastewater discharges with high phosphorous concentrations;
  • Highest trade effluent flows in England and Wales;
  • Extensive diffuse pollution issues from agriculture and other rural sources;
  • Historic chemical and metal pollution in river sediments mobilised in high flow conditions;
  • Challenges in complying with bathing water quality standards, exacerbated by the highest rainfall in England, estuaries with high levels of suspended sediments, and low annual levels of solar radiation;
  • Large areas of rivers and estuaries in the NW RBD are designated under the EU Birds Directive and Habitats Directive, requiring more stringent and broader standards than WFD good status alone; and
  • High level of community deprivation, with the lowest employment level and the highest proportion of the most socio-economically deprived communities in England.
  • There are a number of factors in North West England that provide opportunities for increasing the delivery ambition of the Annex VII plan through the implementation of an integrated approach to water management. These include:

  • Complete geographic coverage of the catchment-based approach, which empowers stakeholders to contribute to river basin management at a hydrological catchment scale;
  • Water company coverage over the entire NW RBD;
  • Atlantic Gateway investment programme to attract investment, accelerate growth and rebalance UK economy centred on NW England; and
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Association of Greater Manchester Authorities bring together 10 local governments in one partnership, which will help address the challenge in England of working on river basins divided by local political boundaries.


The high level objectives of the NWRBD LIFE IP project are to:

  • Substantially increase the capacity to deliver improvement in water body status in the North West (England) River Basin District;
  • Demonstrate improvements in delivery, through improvement by increasing mobilisation of relevant funds and cost-benefit through the identification of multiple benefits;
  • Demonstrate reduction of technically infeasible measures by addressing difficult issues in river basin management, including diffuse rural and urban pollution, natural flood management, uptake of sustainable drainage solutions, and the use of green infrastructure and ecosystem services;
  • Increase engagement and formalise the role of stakeholders to mobilise funding, and increase delivery activity in integrated water management;
  • Improve understanding of the reasons for failure to meet good status, by improving third party data and knowledge input into river basin planning;
  • Reduce the barriers to adoption of an integrated approach by reducing policy and legal conflicts, improving financial instruments, increasing delivery capacity and providing appropriate management infrastructure; and
  • Provide mechanisms to upscale integrated project (IP) successes to national and Member State levels.
  • In addition to the LIFE IP budget itself, the project will facilitate the coordinated use of €37 050 000 of complementary funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), €139 500 000 in national public funds and €52 500 000 in private sector funds.



Environmental issues addressed:


Water - Water resources protection
Water - Water quality improvement
Water - River basin management


river‚  water quality improvement‚  river management

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Environment Agency
Type of organisation National authority
Description The Environment Agency is a non-departmental public body of the UK Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It is the principal environmental regulator for England, and works extensively with European, national and regional partners. The agency’s principal aim is to protect or enhance the environment, in order to contribute towards attaining the objective of sustainable development.
Partners United Utilities, United Kingdom Association of Greater Manchester Authorities/Greater Manchester Combined Authority, United Kingdom Natural England, United Kingdom The Rivers Trust, United Kingdom


Project reference LIFE14 IPE/UK/000027
Duration 01-JAN-2015 to 31-DEC -2019
Total budget 20,031,040.00 €
EU contribution 11,988,811.00 €
Project location North(United Kingdom)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version