THE DAUGHTER DIRECTIVES
45. Ms Kirmond informed the Committee that both
the Groundwater Directive and the draft Priority Substances Directive
were there "because Europe could not reach agreement on them
during the time of the agreement on the main body of the directive"
(Q 50). They should therefore "be part of the whole
regulatory framework that helps us to achieve good ecological
status, both on the biological and chemical and quantitative basis"
46. Ms Kirmond noted that the Environment Agency
had been heavily involved in the negotiation of both Directives.
With regard to the Priority Substances Directive, she said, "We
are working very hard and supporting Defra in that negotiation
so that we will get something which helps us to be in a good position
to replace the Dangerous Substances Directive.
But we are also thinking very carefully about the applicability
of the directive and what it will mean in terms of regulation
and whether it is a reasonable approach. So we always have that
in our mind as well, the reasonability of the chemical standards
that are being proposed and whether they are transposable into
reality" (Q 50).
47. The Minister expressed "concerns about
the safety factors that have been used to calculate EQSs (Environmental
Quality Standards) where there is not the available toxicological
data in some cases. We think that this is resulting in highly
precautionary and stringent standards that could actually drive
very costly investment to achieve objectives and might only have
marginal environmental benefit
We would favour having provisional
standards and seeing lower safety factors" (Q 64).
48. Ian Macdonald, from the Water Quality Division
of Defra, explained: "It is getting the balance between a
properly precautionary approach and the certainty in the calculation
of the correct and scientifically correct quality standard
It may be in a few years' time we will realise that we would have
been doing enough with perhaps a less precautionary standard,
and our approach would be in negotiations to see whether the Commission
and other Member States would consider a provisional standard,
as they have already proposed for a couple of metals" (Q 65).
49. On the possible costs of the draft Directive,
the Minister stated: "The cost of end-pipe controls to achieve
environmental quality standards are estimated at some one billion
[pounds] for additional treatment at water industry sewerage treatment
works if we were required to meet all the requirements in the
Directive as they stand in the proposal at the moment" (Q 67).
This assumed that the flexibility enshrined within Article 4 would
50. The Minister concluded: "One of the
key things of the [Water Framework] Directive overall is that
Article 4 makes it clear that members would not be required to
take action which would incur disproportionate cost or which is
not technically feasible within allotted timescales. I think that
principle has to apply to all the Daughter Directives and this
is very much a key part of our negotiating remit as we move forward
with this proposal on priority substances" (Q 86).
51. We agree that a proportional approach
must be taken to the new Priority Substances Directive. In line
with the Water Framework Directive, it is appropriate to apply
to the Priority Substances Directive the flexibility enshrined
within Article 4 of the Water Framework Directive.
52. Our assessment of the implementation of
the Water Framework Directive thus far indicates that the standards
laid down must be transposable into reality, taking into account
the complexities of delivering this legislation. We hope
that the experience gained from implementing the first stages
of the Water Framework Directive will provide a constructive input
into the negotiations taking place in relation to the new Daughter
53. We are concerned that the general level
of information provided by the Member States in relation to priority
substances has been weak, and consider that the speedy adoption
of the Priority Substances Directive will strengthen implementation
of legislation in this area.