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Parliamentary questions
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14 June 2019
Answer given by Mr Vella on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: P-002104/2019

The Commission was not aware of the information provided by the Honourable Members. Member States have the primary responsibility for implementation of the EU Directives and ensuring that environmental objectives are fulfilled, including those of the Water Framework Directive(1) (WFD), the Groundwater Directive (GWD)(2) and the Drinking Water Directive (DWD)(3).

According to the WFD, a new project can be authorised as an exemption to the environmental objectives of the directive if it is of overriding public interest and fulfils the conditions detailed in Article 4(7).

One of those is that the exemption and its justification be described in the corresponding River Basin Management Plan. As these Plans have to be subject to public consultation, this is the best opportunity for the public to raise their concerns and ensure that they are taken into account.

Details on the Mid-Chilterns Chalk groundwater body can be consulted by the Honourable Members in the corresponding Thames river basin management plan(4). From the information reported to the Commission by the United Kingdom, the groundwater body is in poor quantitative and chemical status. The water body is expected to achieve good chemical status by 2027.

The United Kingdom applied exemptions under Articles 4(4) and 4(5) of the WFD, both justified by disproportionate costs of the necessary measures.

Furthermore, the Commission is not aware of the HS2 activities potentially affecting drinking water in Hillingdon. The DWD requires that Member States shall take all actions needed to ensure that drinking water is wholesome and clean.

The possibility to grant derogations (Article 9) for maximal 9 years was linked to the timescale for compliance (Article 14) of the directive. It expired for the United Kingdom in December 2012.

(1)Directive 2000/60/EC: OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1-73.
(2)Directive 2006/118/EC: OJ L 372, 27.12.2006.
(3)Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption, OJ L 330, 5.12.1998, p. 32.

Last updated: 14 June 2019Legal notice