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It is a legal requirement for the UK to collect and report on beach litter data as part of the Marine Strategy Regulations 2010 and the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic. The Marine Conservation Society has performed this role since 1994, collecting beach litter data in England, Scotland and Wales as part of its ‘Beachwatch’ programme. In this monitoring project beach surveys are conducted quarterly by trained surveyors from nominated beaches, recording and classifying beach litter, before submitting it into a database. These surveys provide an indicator of the state of the marine environment with respect to litter informing both the UK Marine Strategy and OSPAR Convention.
Much of our modern water protection legislation is derived from a number of EU directives, it appears likely that the main requirements of these directives will be retained as part of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, in which all direct EU legislation, such as directives, will be incorporated into UK domestic law.
In England and Wales, the Secretary of State has the power to designate a Water Protection Zone with a view to controlling the entry of any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter into controlled waters, or to prohibit or restrict those activities that are likely to result in pollution of those waters.
The Environment Agency is allowed to impose controls on agricultural and other activities in order to meet the objectives of the Water Framework Directive.
The Government has designated Nitrate Vulnerable Zones under the Nitrates Directive. This requires compliance with mandatory action plans for farming activities.
The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive requires governments to identify Nutrient Sensitive Areas.
The Water Framework Directive requires the identification of protected areas in river basin management plans.
The South East Waste Authority Planning Advisory Group (SEWPAG) comprises Waste Planning Authorities (WPAs) in the south east of England, the Environment Agency, representatives from similar fora in London and the east of England and waste industry representation through the Environmental Services Association (ESA). It is a non-executive body, funded directly by the WPA members. The overall aim of SEWPAG is to ensure that meaningful, collaborative joint working between WPAs, the Environment Agency and the waste industry (represented by the ESA) within the South East of England on strategic waste management issues is undertaken diligently and on an ongoing basis for the mutual benefit of those authorities.
The Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) works in partnership with Government, Local Authorities, Water Companies, businesses and more, to maximise the natural value of our environment. CaBA partnerships are actively working in all 100+ river catchments across England and cross-border with Wales, directly supporting achievement of many of the targets under the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.
The Solent Forum manages the secretariat for the Solent Marine Site (SEMS) Scheme of Management. The SEMS Annual Monitoring has identified that there is concern amongst some Statutory Authorities (Relevant Authorities to SEMS) in the Solent about the impacts of littering. Although at present there has not been a proven link that littering is having an adverse effect on SEMS at a site level, it is important to acknowledge that on a national level evidence shows that littering is damaging the environment. In the Solent that there are the gaps in current knowledge with respect to both the direct and indirect impacts of litter and hotspots exist within the Solent's designated sites.