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Integrating River Basin

Management Plans with the

Planning System
Alaine Clarke MIPI
Physical Planner

March 2015

Appreciate existing linkages between catchment
management and the planning system
Recognise that the planning system is a key tool to
implementation of RBMPs
Understand what is needed to deliver a waterfriendly planning system
Get feedback!

Structure of presentation
Policy Context
Legislative context as it relates to planning &
What guidance is out there?
Existing RBMPs + interaction with planning
Developing appropriate & measurable policies
Next cycle of RBMPs

Why do we need sync planning &

catchment management?
No water. No life. No blue. No green.
Sylvia Earle
Risk of not doing?
Impact on water resources & aquatic health;
Constraints on new development due to lack of
water supply and waste water treatment capacity;
Missed opportunities for cost-saving;
Increased flood risk;
Poorer quality environments in which we live;
Impact on our health and well-being.

A water-friendly planning system

What is a water-friendly planning system?

Do we have one?
How can we deliver one?
Water is seen as a constraint or a challenge to

The planning system has a key role to play in

delivering the requirements of the WFD through its
influence on location, layout and design of new
Planning authorities are ideally placed to address
pressures on the water environment associated with

How does the Planning System Work?

3-pronged approach:
Forward Planning
Development Management

Policy Framework
City/County Development
Local Economic and
Community Plan
Local Area Plans

Linking Water Policy to Development

Spatial Scale

Planning Advice
for Integrated
University of

Legislative Context: General

Public authorities must (S.I. 722 of 2003):
exercise its functions ..which achieves or
promotes compliance with the requirements of the
take such actions .secure compliance with the
Directive, RBMP and POMs
i.e. responsibility of planning authorities to ensure
that future development does not negatively impact
on the achievement of WFD objectives and to
implement measures where necessary.

Forward Planning (1)

Legislative Context
Planning and Development (Amendment) Act
2010 includes an important provision in
support of the WFD:
a mandatory objective (of development
plans ) requires local authorities to integrate
water management with planning policies and
objectives in preparing their development

Legislative Context
A development plan shall include an objective for:
the promotion of compliance with environmental standards and objectives
for bodies of surface water, by the European Communities (Surface
Waters) Regulations 2009;
for groundwater, by the European Communities (Groundwater) Regulations
which standards and objectives are included in river basin management
plans (within the meaning of Regulation 13 of the European Communities
(Water Policy) Regulations 2003

Legislative Context
Complex to understand!
The effect of this explicit new linking provision
is that the policies and objectives of all
development plans must be specifically
aligned with the applicable RBMP.
As a result, development plans are now in
effect required to be key agents for achieving
WFD objectives.

How do we align RBMPs and DPs?

First need to understand the RBMP objectives
The RBMPs establish the following core
environmental objectives to be achieved
generally by 2015 and beyond:

prevent deterioration in status;

restore good status;
reduce chemical pollution;
achieve water related protected areas objectives.

Future land-use plans should ensure that they

contribute to achieving these environmental
objectives and other relevant objectives in

How do we align RBMPs and DPs?

Water Services Strategic Plan
Has to be consistent with RBMPs, NSS &
Regional Planning Guidelines
Development plans have to have regard to
WSSP and provision of infrastructure
Linking provision of infrastructure to WSSP
getting the right type and quality of
development, in the right place and at the
right time

Use full range of DP Objectives

Supplementary objectives (Planning Act)
should be assessed against RBMP objectives e.g.
Regulating, restricting and controlling:
the development of coastal areas and
development in the vicinity of inland waterways;
development in order to reduce the risk of serious
danger to human health or the environment;
the exploitation of natural resources;
development on the foreshore, or any part of the
Protecting and preserving the quality of the
environment, including the prevention, limitation,
elimination, abatement or reduction of
environmental pollution and the protection of
waters, groundwater, the seashore and the

What Guidance is out there?

Nationally, not a lot!
Waiting on DECLG guidance which is due to be
published as an Appendix to the revised DP
Guidelines: How to improve integration of
RBMPs and DPs.

Existing RBMPs & Planning

Has been a disconnect between the
implementation of RBMPs and DPs. The
objectives in the RBMPs have not always
translated coherently into DPs.
Reference to integration through the SEA
process in RBMPs.
Development Plan Guidance on the Water
Environment SEPA, February 2015 very
useful re SEA process
Source: Register of Plans and
Programmes Background Document
to the River Basin Management Plans
December 2008

Evidence-based Planning
RBMP process can provide a robust evidence base
to help the key planning stages of spatial
planning, including informing alternative
Evidence base for preparing DPs can also be
facilitated through SEA & (Habitats Directive
Assessment) HDA.
SEA should consider the effects of policies on the
water environment.

Evidence-based Planning & DP

Baseline informatione.g.;;
local water body status, risk scores, objectives and
Water management unit action plans

Groundwater vulnerability, GW Protection Areas

Annual environmental reports (AERs)?
(Emerging) Water Safety Plans
Wetlands inventory..?
Consultation with key stakeholders: critical to a
well-informed plan

Appropriate DP Policies, e.g

Conserve, enhance and give access to watercourses
and riverside habitats;
Encourage development proposals to improve the water
environment, e.g. restoring natural watercourses
through the removal of culverts;
Protect sensitive locations, e.g. wetland habitat and
drinking water supplies;
Seek upgrades to local water infrastructure (water
supply, wastewater sewerage and treatment, flood risk
mgt, sustainable drainage and green/blue infrastructure)
Support an integrated and collaborative approach to local
catchment management
Restrict exempted development in sensitive locations?

Statement to accompany DPs

The written statement of the development plan is
required to include a separate statement which
shows that the development objectives are
consistent with the conservation and protection of
the environment. S 10(1D)
Statement should address the environmental
objectives as set out in the RBMPs. The SEA
process should facilitate the drafting of such a

Development Management(2)
Encourage the incorporation of sustainable
drainage systems into new developments;
Where required, applications to be accompanied
by a water management statement which
identifies water cycle issues and the means of
addressing these;
Relies on Development Plan policy;
Use of environmental assessments for
schemes where local evidence shows there might
be significant impacts on water bodies.

Development Management (cont)

Environmental Assessments, e.g.
Habitats Directive Assessments
Environmental Impact Assessment
WFD Assessment (NIEA 2012)


Resource intensive
Time intensive
Measurable compliance procedures would
be beneficial, & linked to SEA objectives to
help secure implementation

Next cycle of RBMPs

Engage with planning authorities in contributing to the next
Questions arising:
what are the RBMP outputs and how can they be used to
inform land-use and spatial planning?
Will the POMs be sufficiently detailed to be of value to the
planning system?
What are the potential risks of various potential forms and
patterns of development to achieving water objectives?
Support Tools should help in the day-day management of
development control and in forward planning through evidence
based planning.

Room for improvement across all levels and sectors
of planning;
WFD and Integrated Catchment Management (ICM)
needs to be imbedded at a national and regional
scale statutory context;
Through the new National Planning Framework &
Regional Spatial & Economic Strategies;
These will influence County Development Plans and
Local Area Plans and development management;
Need robust objectives and measurable
compliance measures;
Scientific evidence needed to support policy!


Increase awareness of Catchment
Managers of the planning system and
how it can influence catchment
Increase awareness of the Planner of
catchment management and its
integration with the planning system
Land-use planning and RBM planning
needs to develop and deliver hand in
Image curtsey of
Emma Quinlan,