UK NEWS        









Climate change survey consultation

(Posted 3 December 2015)             

Defra recently held a consultation on a proposed Climate Change Survey designed to collect information on how UK businesses may, or may not, be adapting to changes in climate. Following the first Climate Change Risk Assessment in 2012, Defra commissioned the Office for National Statistics to develop a feasibility study on the adaptation economy. This aimed to understand if a survey to measure the UK business activity of adapting to climate change and taking advantage of any opportunities was possible.

To further understand the challenges of completing such a survey and what benefits may be realised Defra have invited views on the proposed survey design. The feedback will provide useful results for policy, academia and business.

The proposed questionnaire covers:

  • impact from weather-related events.
  • risks and opportunities relating to current and future changes in climate.
  • income from adaptation goods and services related to changes in climate.

A short report summarising the findings is scheduled to be published in early December 2015.


New rules to tackle diffuse water pollution from agriculture in England

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Defra recently held a consultation to help them find out what you think about some proposed new basic rules for all farmers to help reduce water pollution from agriculture. They will also improve farm efficiency and build on good practice. The proposed rules relate to managing phosphorus. Defra has developed these proposals with advice from the agriculture industry. Results will be published in due course.


UK NEWS        

River Basin Management Plans – Update

(Posted 3 December 2015)

The EA have published a consultation response document called ‘Acting on your responses to the draft updated river basin management plans and draft flood risk management plan consultations 2015’. It summarises the consultation responses into main themes and states how the feedback provided has helped to finalise both sets of plans.

The Agency received over 800 responses to these consultations, and even more organisations and individuals got involved through specially organised events, existing meetings and social media. The proposed updates to the river basin management plans were formally submitted to the government for consideration on 30th October 2015.

You can view the consultation response document and the proposed updates to the river basin management plans here:


Court victory shows that protecting our precious rivers and wetlands is no longer a ‘last resort’

(Posted 3 December 2015)

On 19 November WWF-UK, the Angling Trust & Fish Legal judicial review secured a major step forward for the protection of our most important rivers and wetlands. The judge recognised the need for urgent action to protect these precious places and the wildlife that lives there.

As a result of the legal victory today, the government must evaluate the use of mandatory Water Protection Zones (WPZs) alongside voluntary steps by farmers, which have so far failed to protect these vulnerable places from farm pollution. The environmental organisations claimed that ministerial involvement had stifled necessary action to reduce pollution from farms harming England’s ‘natural’ crown jewels. [WPZs were identified by the Environment Agency in 2009 as its preferred tool to reduce pollution if voluntary measures were not successful.]

Read more at:


Is the UK meeting EU Water Framework Directive objectives?

(Posted 3 December 2015)

On 9 September the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee took evidence from Defra and Environment Agency officials, in a one-off session on implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive.

The EU’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) pursues an integrated approach to the management of water resources. Member States were required to produce a first set of River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) by 2009 as a basis for protecting, improving and maintaining the environmental condition of surface and ground waters. In June 2015 the sub-committee considered the government’s Explanatory Memorandum on a European Commission Communication on the WFD. The Commission criticised the measures taken thus far by Member States. Following correspondence with the government, the sub-committee agreed to invite officials to discuss some of the issues arising.

For further information, click here


Thames Tideway Tunnel to bring benefits worth up to almost £13bn

(Posted 3 December 2015)

The new state-of-the-art Thames Tideway Tunnel is set to bring environmental benefits worth up to almost £13bn, the Environment Minister Rory Stewart has announced.

New figures show the benefits of the tunnel, which include preventing millions of tonnes of sewage flowing into the river every year, improving water quality to better protect our precious marine wildlife and creating a cleaner river for all to enjoy.

Work on the tunnel is set to begin next summer and will update the capital’s 150 year-old sewerage system now operating close to capacity, resulting in sewage overflowing into the river on average once a week.

Spanning four miles beneath the London Borough of Newham, from Abbey Mills to Beckton, the Lee Tunnel is London’s deepest-ever tunnel and will prevent more than 16 million tonnes of sewage mixed with rainwater overflowing into the River Lee and Thames Tideway each year.


England’s bathing water results 2015

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Bathing water in the UK is improving. A total of 97% of England’s bathing waters passed the minimum tougher standard this year. In total, 63.6% of bathing waters meet the new Excellent standard.

The nation’s bathing waters have continually improved since 1990 when just 27% met strict water quality standards. As our bathing waters improve, EU standards are now also getting higher. The Environment Agency closely monitors the quality of our bathing waters and carries out regular testing and inspections. They also work closely with local partners and others to identify pollution sources and take action to protect and improve bathing water quality across the country.

This report sets out the classifications of bathing waters in England following the monitoring in 2015:


MCS announces new chairman

(Posted 3 December 2015)

The Marine Conservation Society has announced the appointment of Hugh Raven (former director of Soil Association Scotland) as its new chairman.

Hugh’s background includes leadership roles in the environmental sector: he chairs the Environmental Funders’ Network – the umbrella body for UK trusts and foundations. He was a member (for Scotland) of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, advising the prime minister and first ministers of the devolved nations, and a board member of Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB.

Read more at:


Fifty years of land use change at the coast

(Posted 3 December 2015)

In 1965, concerned about the impact of development along the coast of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the National Trust launched their Neptune Coastline Campaign to help them raise money to buy and protect further stretches of the coast. That summer they commissioned the University of Reading to survey how land along the coast of England, Wales and Northern Ireland was being used and find out which areas were most at risk from development. Fifty years on, they have resurveyed the coast to see what’s changed.

The 1965 survey would prove to be an epic journey around our shores. Dr John Whittow, who was then a professor at the University of Reading, led a team of students to walk 8,000 miles around the coastline of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Half a century later, and coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Neptune Coastline Campaign, the National Trust have resurveyed land use at the coast with the help of the University of Leicester. You can read their report Mapping Our Shores which has been produced in connection with the work.

For more details see:


Collecting and storing sewage at marinas and lock sites

(Posted 3 December 2015)

If you comply with the requirements in this regulatory position statement (RPS) you can store sewage effluent from boats pending its disposal elsewhere.

It is common practice for waterway lock sites and inland or coastal marinas to provide a disposal service for sewage from private and commercial boats. The bulking up and storage of this sewage requires an environmental permit unless the requirements in this guidance are followed.


Scottish wave energy projects receive government funding

(Posted 3 December 2015)

The Scottish Government initiative Wave Energy Scotland (WES) has announced the eight successful applicants who will share a £2.5m fund to advance their technologies in the build-up to commercialisation. A tube-like wave train, an automatically inflatable conversion machine, and an anaconda-like tube are among the projects receiving around £300,000 each to improve performance and efficiency levels. The eight projects were chosen to complete Stage One of a concept optimisation funding project. The eight selected projects will have 100% of their development costs covered by the grants.

WES will support the technologies through different development stages. A report published in January in the journal Renewable Energy suggested that large-scale wave energy is comparatively more reliable, consistent and potentially cheaper than other forms of energy generation, including wind power.

Read the full story here


The new wave of bathing water classifications

(Posted 3 December 2015)

SEPA reports: 2016 is a big year for bathing waters, and it starts now. The interim results from the recently completed 2015 season have shown that using the four years’ data (2012 to 2015) SEPA expect 80% of Scotland’s bathing waters to pass under the new European water quality classification criteria. For the first time, these classifications will apply at each bathing water at the start of next season, rather than just being the final result for this year’s season. However, there are 17 bathing waters in Scotland that will have a poor classification displayed in 2016 on the beach and SEPA realise this is important to the local communities. Their aim is to bring all of them up to at least sufficient by 2020, as any bathing water which has five successive poor classifications will need to have permanent advice against bathing displayed. Their two key strategies to achieve this are to:

  • reduce the levels of pollutants entering the bathing waters.
  • use the provisions detailed in the Directive which are designed to mitigate the effect of our variable climate on our bathing waters and inform and advise on occasions when bathing is not encouraged, particularly following short-term pollution events.

To read more, click here


Benyon to Chair UK Water Partnership

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Richard Benyon MP has taken up the role of Chairman of the UK Water Partnership. The appointment marks another milestone for the organisation as it seeks to develop new opportunities for the UK water sector in a £500bn global market. Outgoing Chairman, Lord Chris Smith, commented that the Newbury MP would be well placed to take on the role, having previously served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2010–2013.

Access this and more news at:


River obstacles app – Scotland

(Posted 3 December 2015)

There are thousands of man-made and natural obstacles in Scotland’s rivers. Many of the man-made obstacles perform important functions – eg dams and road culverts – but they can also cause problems such as restricting the movement of fish, or damaging river banks and beds.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency know where many of these obstacles are and the impacts they cause, but they suspect that there are many more that they don’t know about, particularly in more remote, upland areas. For this reason SEPA, the Rivers and Fisheries Trust for Scotland, and the Environment Agency have joined forces to create a new mobile app that will enable people to send in photos and details of obstacles that they see when they’re out and about by Scotland’s rivers. The information received from this app will be used to identify redundant obstacles that could be removed from rivers, and improvements to obstacles that can’t be removed. Information on natural obstacles will also be used to determine the natural limits to movement for fish.

If you want to help out you can find more information, as well as links to download the app for your IOS or Android device, at


Britain’s forests, soil and rivers worth £1.6tn, says Environment Secretary

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Liz Truss (Environment Secretary) says that Britain should follow the US and quantify the benefits it gets from nature. Britain’s forests, soil and rivers are worth at least £1.6tn and should be quantified in the same way as the country’s man-made infrastructure. In a move which embraces the natural capital agenda, Truss said that trees and bees should be valued as ‘national assets’ in the same way as structures such as the Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland.

The environment secretary cited the example of Britain’s trees, which she says are more valuable in their natural form in the enjoyment they provide for people and their ecological role, than as timber. The Environment Secretary’s call for Britain to embrace the natural capital agenda will, however, be criticised by some environmentalists.

Read more here


Environment Agency appoints new chief executive

(Posted 3 December 2015)

James Bevan has been appointed chief executive of the Environment Agency following a competitive recruitment process. James has had a long career in government and has left his previous role as the UK’s High Commissioner to India to take up the position of chief executive on 30 November.

Former chief executive Paul Leinster left his role on 25 September after 17 years at the Environment Agency.


North Sea cod – out of the red at last

(Posted 3 December 2015)

The iconic European cod fishery which collapsed in the 1980s and has been ailing ever since, has finally increased above dangerously low levels and hauled itself off the MCS (Marine Conservation Society) ‘Fish to Avoid’ list.

As part of MCS’s autumn update to FishOnline (, North Sea cod is now rated 4 and amber, which means it is showing signs of improvement. However, the fishing industry, consumers, and the fish-buying industry need to be aware that cod may never fully recover to its previous glory days of the 1970s and early 80s. Despite this improving news for North Sea cod, there are nine other cod stocks in the north-east Atlantic that are red-rated by MCS.

Read more at:

Other key ratings changes in the latest version of ‘FishOnline’ (September 2015) include:

  • All wild-caught sea bass is now on the ‘Fish to Avoid’ list, reflecting the urgent need to prevent a collapse of this fishery.
  • Whiting from the Irish Sea slips onto the ‘Fish to Avoid’ list.
  • Wild salmon stays on the ‘Fish to Avoid’ list and its situation is getting worse with the lowest number of rivers achieving conservation targets since assessments began.
  • Hake from the south-west has moved onto the ‘Fish to Eat’ list, reflecting the recent certification of the Cornish fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council.
  • There are first-time ratings on ‘FishOnline’ for Pacific cod, brown shrimp, queen scallops, anchovy, brown crab, farmed native oysters and farmed arctic char.


‘Seafish’ launches gear database to support fishing industry through the Landing Obligation

(Posted 3 December 2015)

‘Seafish’, the industry authority on seafood, has launched a comprehensive online portal that details common fishing gears and selectivity devices used in commercial fisheries throughout the UK and Europe – including full descriptions, illustrations and links to scientific trials and reports. It provides information on how to reduce bycatch for a range of species. Aimed predominantly at fishermen, fishery managers, policy makers and environmental groups, it is hoped the information will provide the industry with some solutions ahead of the next phase of the Landing Obligation which comes into effect for demersal (white fish) fisheries on 1st January 2016.

To access the Gear Database visit

Seafish ( was founded in 1981 by an Act of Parliament and aims to support all sectors of the seafood industry for a sustainable, profitable future. It is the only pan-industry body offering services to all parts of the industry, from the start of the supply chain at catching and aquaculture; through processing, importers, exporters and distributors of seafood right through to restaurants and retailers. Seafish is funded by a levy on the first sale of seafood landed in the UK. Its services are intended to support and improve the environmental sustainability, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the industry, as well as promoting sustainably-sourced seafood. These services include technical research and development, responsible sourcing initiatives, economic consulting, market research, industry accreditation, safety training for fishermen and legislative advice.

£1.7m National Lottery grant to protect UK’s threatened marine life

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Thousands of ‘citizen scientists’ are to be trained to monitor and protect marine life around the UK’s coastline.The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £1.7million to ‘Capturing our Coast’, a project designed to explore how the marine environment is responding to global climate change. The project will train over 3,000 volunteers – making it the largest experimental marine citizen science project ever undertaken in the UK.  The volunteers will collect data around key species and it is hoped the new research will help inform future policy and conservation strategies.

The project is led by Newcastle University’s Dove Marine Laboratory and involves the universities of Hull, Portsmouth, Bangor and the Scottish Association for Marine Science.  It also involves a number of organisations including the Marine Biological Association, the Marine Conservation Society, Earthwatch Institute, the Natural History Museum, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Cefas and the Coastal Partnerships Network.

The project will be open for volunteers wanting to take part from September 2015.  For more information and to register your interest please email

Read full details at:


Protecting and improving Scotland’s water environment – the second river basin management plans

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Scotland’s water environment is one of the country’s greatest natural assets and supports health, wellbeing, wildlife and the sustainable growth of Scotland’s economy. This valuable resource is protected and improved through the river basin management planning process. Earlier in the year SEPA asked for your views on two consultations that proposed objectives and measures for the water environment for the next two cycles of river basin management planning. The consultations covered the Scotland river basin district and the Solway Tweed river basin district.

A total of 82 responses to the draft Scotland and Solway Tweed river basin plans were received. These responses have been collated and are now available on SEPA’s website. Respondents were generally supportive of the proposals set out, with a majority calling for a step-change to increase the level of ambition in SEPA’s approach to tackle key challenges such as rural diffuse pollution, physical condition and fish barriers. Prominent themes for both districts included partnership working and integration of planning and policies. Respondents also supported the integration and co-ordination of RBMP objectives with other strategic plans and policies to maximise efficiencies.

SEPA are now in the final stages of producing the second river basin management plans for the Scotland and Solway Tweed districts. The plans will be submitted for approval by the Scottish Government (Scotland and Solway Tweed) and Secretary of State, Defra (Solway Tweed) in October, with the final plans published in December 2015.

For details click here


Lobster (Homarus gammarus) and Edible Crab (Cancer pagurus): Stock status reports 2014

(Posted 3 December 2015)

These reports describe the status of lobster and edible crab stocks around the UK since 2012.

It is planned to re-run these assessments every two years. These reports detail the main findings of the assessments and provide background information describing how the assessments are undertaken, the data that are required, and a description of the uncertainties associated with these assessments.


The Water Framework Directive (Standards and Classification) Directions (England and Wales) 2015

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Communication from Defra’s Water Availability and Quality Programme on 18 September 2015:

    We are writing to inform you that Defra has, earlier this week, issued The Water Framework Directive (Standards and Classification) Directions (England and Wales) 2015 to the Environment Agency.  

    These Directions have been published as an associated document of the Water Environment (WFD) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015, SI 2015/1623, on and can be accessed under More Resources on the Regulations web page. These Directions have replaced the River Basin Districts Typology, Standards and Groundwater Threshold Values (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Directions 2010 and the River Basin Districts Surface Water and Groundwater Classification (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Direction 2009.

    The new Directions set out the environmental standards to be used for the second cycle of river basin plans.  Along with the updated Water Environment (WFD) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003, they transpose Directive 2013/39/EC on environmental quality standards for priority substances.

Access the Directions at:



Cosmetics Europe issues a recommendation on solid plastic particles (plastic microparticles)

(Posted 3 December 2015)

The occurrence and persistence of plastic debris in the marine environment and waterways is an issue of increasing public debate. Many sources of such debris have been identified and estimated. Scientific evidence suggests that the vast majority of small plastic particles in the seas come from the breakdown of bigger plastic materials. Although often highlighted in the context of marine litter debate, the use of solid plastic microparticles in cosmetic and personal care products is considered to be limited compared to other sources.

Many individual member companies of Cosmetics Europe have publicly stated that they will discontinue those uses in cosmetics that are most likely to end up in the aquatic environment and for which alternatives exist. Building on this, in order to engage the whole of the Cosmetic Europe membership and to facilitate sector wide best practice, Cosmetics Europe, the personal care association, is today issuing a recommendation to discontinue their use in wash-off cosmetic and personal care products for exfoliating and cleansing purposes.

Read more at:


New Zealand to protect one of the world’s largest ocean sanctuaries

(Posted 3 December 2015)

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key, has announced that his nation plans to create a South Pacific marine sanctuary the size of France, saying it would protect one of the world’s pristine ocean environments.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary would cover an area of 620,000 km2 about 1,000 km off New Zealand’s northeast coast. Announcing the plans at the United Nations in New York, Key said the Kermadec area was home to thousands of important species, including whales, dolphins, seabirds and endangered turtles. The sanctuary will prevent fishing and mineral exploitation in an area where marine scientists regularly discover new marine species.

For more information click here


Crisis in global oceans as populations of marine species halve in size since 1970

(Posted 3 December 2015)

WWF’s Living Blue Planet report, an updated study of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, shows a decline of 49 per cent in the size of marine populations between 1970 and 2012. As well as being disastrous for ecosystems, these findings spell trouble for all nations, especially people in the developing world who depend heavily on the ocean’s resources.

Many species essential to commercial and subsistence fishing – and therefore global food supply – are significantly depleted due to over fishing.  Global population sizes of the Scombridae family of food fish that includes tunas, mackerels and bonitos have fallen by 74 per cent. While over-exploitation is identified as the major threat to ocean biodiversity, the study finds that climate change is causing the ocean to change more rapidly than at any other point in millions of years.

It’s not all bad news in the UK. Recent assessments from the North Sea have shown that just over 50% of assessed stocks, including herring and haddock, are being fished sustainably. Progress is being made in the designation of Marine Protected Areas. Current gaps in the network in England include seagrass sites - home to two species of seahorse - and protection for mobile species such as sharks, skates and rays, which are identified as being in trouble on a global scale in this report.

Read more at:

Read the full report here


Survey of attitudes towards marine protected areas gives mixed response

(Posted 3 December 2015)

A new survey has gathered the views of organisations and industries affected by marine protected areas (MPAs). A total of 36 organisations from the UK and France responded to the survey, which asked about the perceived socio-economic and environmental impacts of multiple-use MPAs. Environmental NGOs, managing agencies and research centres gave a largely positive response, whilst fishers, shipping and other industrial organisations perceived an overall negative impact on them. The researchers thought that gathering stakeholders’ views on MPAs may help improve socio-economic outcomes through informing the planning and management of these marine areas.



Extent of plastics in the Mediterranean Sea: a growing problem

(Posted 3 December 2015)

The extent of marine litter in the Mediterranean has been revealed by researchers who reviewed previous studies to show that the north-west Mediterranean Sea is a hotspot for plastic debris. They found that marine litter harmed 134 species in the Mediterranean Sea and call for more to be done to manage the growing problem of debris, especially plastics, littering the Mediterranean. An estimated 82% of all man-made litter found floating on its surface is plastic, and it is the most common debris on the seafloor.

To understand the extent of the plastic litter problem in the Mediterranean Basin, researchers reviewed past scientific literature and project reports. They found 24 studies collectively covering the period 1979 to 2014 that detailed where plastic items were found. The north-western Mediterranean was most polluted with plastic litter, especially in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The lowest amount was found in the Lybian Sea, in the southern part of the Mediterranean. The researchers also identified 29 studies from 1986 to 2014 that documented how marine organisms interact with marine litter. Most studies focused on the effects of marine organisms ingesting plastic and/or becoming entangled in plastic debris. Fewer studies examined how organisms colonise marine litter or use it as rafts. Of the species studied, the majority were sea turtles and marine mammals. There were very few studies on invertebrates and fish.

Read more at:


Benefits of marine reserves revealed for wider range of fish species

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Mathematical models created to help design marine reserves have tended to focus on fish species where larvae are highly mobile but adults occupy relatively small areas. However, new research has extended these models to include fish species with different life histories, such as groupers and flounders, showing that they also benefit substantially from reserve protection.

Read more at:


Quality of urban waterways found to affect bat populations and biodiversity

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Urban waterways can provide foraging opportunities for a range of bat species. However, researchers have found that bats in the UK are negatively affected by high levels of invasive plant species and urban development near waterways. The authors of this study highlight the value these often disregarded urban spaces can have for ecosystems, and suggest ways to improve the biodiversity of waterways.

Read more at:


Microalgae sticks to microplastics and transports them to the seabed

(Posted 3 December 2015)

A recent study has found that fragments of microplastics are readily incorporated into groups of microscopic algae, altering the rate at which the plastics move through seawater. In laboratory tests, polystyrene microbeads, which usually sink to the bottom of seawater at a rate of 4 mm per day, sank at a rate of several hundreds of metres a day when part of microalgae aggregates. The study, funded by the EU MICRO project, suggests that microalgae aggregates could be responsible for transporting microplastics into the deep ocean. They may also be the reason that other studies have found surprisingly few microplastics in surface waters and high concentrations in the seabed.

A broader understanding of the fate of microplastics will help policymakers design policies that will better manage the risk of plastic pollution in the marine environment.

Read more at:


Marine protected areas increase survival of Atlantic cod

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are widely used to safeguard marine ecosystems across Europe. This study investigated the effect of a partially protected area (PPA) off the coast of Norway on a population of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). The PPA reduced the number of deaths due to fishing, increased survival and stimulated movement to surrounding areas. The authors say that preventing fishing altogether would increase survival even further and recommend no-take zones in areas where populations are severely reduced.

Read more at:


Gulf of Mexico oil spill exposed Peregrine falcon species to harmful hydrocarbons

(Posted 3 December 2015)

A new study finds that migrating tundra peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus tundrius) experienced increased levels of harmful hydrocarbons in their blood following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Blood from juvenile females was found to have the highest levels of contamination.

Read more at:


Mussels: biomonitoring tools for pharmaceutical pollution in the marine environment?

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Pharmaceutical pollution of marine environments has important biological consequences for aquatic organisms. This study investigated the effects on mussels of treatment with environmentally relevant levels of an antidepressant, fluoxetine (Prozac), and a beta-blocker, propranolol, using biomarkers including DNA damage. The results showed that mussels are most vulnerable to these drugs in combination.

Many human pharmaceuticals are not completely broken down by the body, nor completely degraded by wastewater treatment, which means residues can be released into aquatic ecosystems. These residues can have negative effects on aquatic organisms, including changes to reproductive behaviour and physiology. While many studies have investigated pharmaceutical pollution of freshwaters, comparatively few have studied the effects of pharmaceuticals in marine environments, as the dilution of larger bodies of water is assumed to reduce the risk. However, pharmaceutical residues do pose a risk in marine environments. Many are adsorbed to the sediment at the bottom of the water and to the solids suspended in the water. Organisms that live at the bottom of the water and feed on suspended materials may therefore be at particular risk. Both drugs have been detected in coastal environments.

Read the full abstract here:


Benefits of constructed wetland ecosystem services worth more than double the costs

(Posted 3 December 2015)

The economic benefits of the ecosystem services provided by constructed wetlands far outweigh the costs of maintaining them, new research has confirmed. Analysis of a wetland that treats the third largest lake in Florida (US), shows that it provides ecosystem services worth $1.79 (€1.64) million per year, against costs of less than half that figure.

Eutrophication has become a significant environmental problem. Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution enters waterways as a result of run-off of agricultural fertilisers, and can be damaging for aquatic wildlife. Wetlands, which filter pollutants from water before they reach lakes, streams and oceans, can mitigate this problem. Although they occur naturally, artificial wetlands can also be constructed, and are now in use all over the world.

This study assessed the effectiveness of a large constructed wetland in the US. The researchers assessed performance over nine years of operation. Constructed wetlands provide many ecosystem services, such as providing good water quality and maintaining biodiversity, but quantifying their monetary value can be challenging. Using estimates provided by ecological economics, which give monetary value to ecosystem services such as water pollution control, the researchers were able to estimate that the constructed wetland provides a value of €1.64 million per year, many times greater than its annual running costs. However, the researchers say that this is a crude estimate, which should be used to give an idea of the benefits of a wetland approach rather than a precise valuation.



Marine Plan - user guide

(Posted 3 December 2015)

This is a guide, published by the Marine Management Organisation, to support the implementation of marine plans.

Marine plans are to be applied to decision-making concerning activities and developments taking place in, or affecting, a marine area – both inshore and offshore (from 0 to 200nm) and up to the mean high water spring mark or the tidal extent of an estuary. This guide details who should use marine plans, plus when and how they should be used.


Bathing waters in England: 2015 compliance report

(Posted 3 December 2015)

This report sets out the classifications of bathing waters in England following the monitoring in 2015.


Citizen science and volunteer monitoring resources

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Citizen Science is a fundamental data gathering and engagement tool for Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) partnerships to help develop understanding of the issues in catchments, and also to engage their local communities in identifying and delivering solutions.

This resource pack has been collated to support the CaBA partnerships in their work to protect and enhance the freshwater environment. This isn’t an exhaustive guide, but rather a collection of useful links, contacts, technical references and case studies which other CaBA partnerships have used and shared.

You can download the whole guide as a PDF.

If you have something to add please email or post on the forum


EC report on the progress in establishing marine protected areas (as required by Article 21 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive)

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Marine protected areas constitute essential spatial management tools for nature conservation. They can function as sanctuaries for the threatened biodiversity of our seas and oceans. By supporting the resilience of ecosystems, effective networks of MPAs create valuable benefits to society. These socio-economic benefits include job creation, food provision, and climate regulation. The Commission will continue supporting national and international efforts in relation to the designation and effective management of marine protected areas, as well as the implementation of other spatial protection measures for marine biodiversity.

The Commission will prepare the next progress report on the establishment of marine protected areas in the context of the MSFD implementation. The present report will provide a baseline for this assessment. The progress made in establishing MPAs in Europe will also be assessed in 2019 when the Commission evaluates the first cycle of the implementation of the MSFD. With a dedicated effort at all levels, it should be possible to meet the objectives set out in EU and international law and policies, and increase MPA coverage above 10% by 2020 in Europe.

Read the report at:


Hydropower schemes: guidelines and applying for permission

(Posted 3 December 2015)

These documents will help you understand what you need to do when developing a hydropower scheme to generate electricity on a river or stream.

Hydropower schemes harness the energy from flowing water to generate electricity, using a turbine or other device. Developing a hydropower scheme involves obtaining permissions from several organisations.

Hydropower schemes can have adverse impacts on the local environment, especially fish populations and other aspects of river ecology. Fish can be harmed if they pass through a turbine and some hydropower schemes can reduce flows in rivers, increase flood risk or adversely affect land drainage. The Environment Agency will assess applications before giving permission.


Demonstration Test Catchment (DTC) newsletter

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Items in this edition include:

  • DTC mitigation methods and farm economics update
  • Estimating the monetary cost of nutrient and sediment loss at the farm-scale in the River Eden catchment
  • Can a modelling toolkit help salmonid population management in the Tamar catchment?
  • New ‘Saving Eden’ website goes live
  • New project – impacts of different vegetation in riparian buffer strips on hydrology and water quality

Read the newsletter here:


Updated SuDS manual is released

(Posted 3 December 2015)

CIRIA has launched the most comprehensive industry SuDS guidance available in the UK. The guidance is released to support uptake of SuDS, manage floods and create better places and spaces, and focuses on the cost-effective planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of SuDS.

SuDS recognise the value of rainwater, seeking to capture, use, delay or absorb it, rather than reject it as a nuisance or problem. Sustainable drainage delivers multiple benefits. As well as delivering high quality drainage whilst supporting areas to cope better with severe rainfall, SuDS can also improve the quality of life in developments and urban spaces by making them more vibrant, visually attractive, sustainable and resilient to change by improving urban air quality, regulating building temperatures, reducing noise and delivering recreation and education opportunities. Earlier this year a ministerial statement made by The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government made it clear that SuDS must play a greater role in the planning system, and to that effect it was made a requirement that sustainable drainage systems will be provided in new major developments wherever appropriate.

The updated SuDS Manual (C753) incorporates the very latest research, industry practice and guidance. It is collaboratively funded and is free to download, available here.

Read the full news article from CIRIA at:


Our Seas Our Future:  MCS Strategy 2015–2020

(Posted 3 December 2015)

This document sets out the Marine Conservation Society’s strategy for the next five years. Sections include:

  1. Protecting marine life
  2. Sustainable fisheries
  3. Clean seas and beaches
  4. Working seas
  5. Engaging our audiences

Securing the means

Access the document here:


Marine plans in England: progress report
for 2009 to 2015

(Posted 3 December 2015)

This is a report setting out the progress with marine plans in England, covering the period 2009 to 2015. It is required as set out in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

For more information click here


Marine Ecosystems Research Programme News

(Posted 3 December 2015)

You can sign up for this useful twice yearly newsletter at:


Water Matters – a ‘Blueprint for Water’ publication

(Posted 3 December 2015)

‘Blueprint for Water’ is a coalition of 16 environmental, water efficiency and fisheries organisations, brought together by the Wildlife and Countryside Link. They are working to understand the problems facing our water environments and to develop solutions to those problems. They collaborate with government, water companies, regulators, scientists and other civil society groups to provide sound, evidence-based policy advice.

‘Blueprint for Water’ has five goals:

  • Use water wisely
  • Stop pollution in our waters
  • Manage floods for people and wildlife
  • Create, protect and restore places for wildlife
  • Joined-up water management

Previous work has included the publication of two Blueprints for Water (2006 and 2010) which have described the steps needed to achieve a sustainable water environment. However, progress has been slow, the coalition states, and more action is needed. Their revised Blueprint for Water, based on the five goals described above, has just been launched and is entitled Water Matters.

Access Water Matters here:


MCZ Assessment Guidance 

(Posted 3 December 2015)

In November 2013 the first Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) were designated. A second tranche of MCZs are currently being considered for designation. MCZs are designated under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (MCAA) 2009. Under this Act duties are placed on the MMO in relation to marine licence decision making and the consideration of MCZs.

Royal HaskoningDHV has produced a set of recommendations for taking a plan or project through the MCZ assessment process.


Transboundary marine spatial planning and international law

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is an integrated and comprehensive approach to ocean governance and is used to establish a rational use of marine space and reconcile conflicting interests of its users. MSP allows both a high level of environmental protection and a wide range of human activities and emphasizes coordinated networks of national, regional and global institutions.

This book focuses on the framework of international law behind MSP and especially on the transboundary aspects of MSP. Specific detailed case studies include the EU with the focus on the Baltic Sea and North Sea, the Bay of Bengal and Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The authors examine the national and regional significance of MSP from an integrated and sustainable ocean governance point of view. They also show how transboundary MSP can create opportunities and positive initiatives for cross-border cooperation and contribute to the effective protection of the regional marine environment.

For more details about the book click here



4th European Water Conference (23–24 March 2015)

(Posted 3 December 2015)

The 4th European Water Conference, organised by the European Commission’s Environment Directorate-General, was held in Brussels the day after World Water Day. The conference provided the opportunity for representatives from Member States, stakeholders and the EC working directly or indirectly on the implementation of the Water Framework and Floods Directives to debate key topics, including:

  • Experiences from the first cycle of implementation of the WFD, achievements and lessons learned.
  • The EC’s assessment of the implementation of the WFD programmes of measures.
  • Preparations and expectations for the second River Basin Management Plans.
  • Integration issues: links between water policy and agriculture, energy, and navigation policies.
  • The role of water policy in the context of Green and Blue Growth.

The conference was attended by 458 participants representing 320 different organisations.
The conference report is now available.

Documents and presentations related to the conference are available in CIRCABC.

Videos are available here: Day 1 (23/03/2015)  and Day 2 (24/03/2015).

Source of article:


RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands (1–9 June 2015)

(Posted 3 December 2015)

The 12th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP12) was held in June 2015 at Punta del Este, Uruguay. The conference approved 16 resolutions, including the fourth Ramsar Strategic Plan for the period 2016–2024. Read the resolutions and proceedings including the conference report, the lists of participants and the presentations made at the event here:


River Basin Management 2015: 8th International Conference (17–19 June 2015)

(Posted 3 December 2015)

This was held in A Coruña, Spain, and the topics covered were river and watershed management, flood risk management, erosion and sediment transport, water resource management, water quality, river basin risk analysis, and extreme event management.

The objective of this series of conferences is to bring stakeholders together so that their interaction can foster mutual understanding and lead to better solutions for the management of river basins. The conference provided a platform to exchange knowledge and hold productive discussions. Papers presented at the meeting, as well as those of previous conferences, are permanently archived in digital format in the Wessex Institute website at where they are available to the international community.

Source of article:


Valuing the Environment: Putting Natural Capital into Practice (1 October 2015)

(Posted 3 December 2015)

Natural Capital is the stock of all natural assets, including soil, air, geology, water and all living things. It provides humans with a wide range of services, often called ecosystem services, which make human life possible. Natural Capital accounting is a means of explicitly including information on the state of, and changes in, natural capital, in economic accounts.

Natural capital is rapidly gaining traction as a tool to value environmental goods and services. The Natural Capital Committee has proposed a 25-year framework to protect and improve natural capital in the UK. With a water management focus, plus case studies from other sectors, this event provided the perfect opportunity for cross-sector learning. Talks included: developing multi-habitat ecosystem accounts for protected and other land areas in the UK; mapping ecosystem service benefits onto multi-function waterways to inform funding decisions; catchment delivery, PES and multiple benefits; and getting the BeST from SuDS.

See the summaries and presentations at: