2. EMERGENCIES AND TEMPORARY DETERIORATION OF THE WATER ENVIRONMENT
An "emergency" for CAR purposes is defined by reference to its definition under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004; and thus includes any event or situation that threatens serious damage to human welfare or the environment. Emergencies in these terms range from situations requiring immediate action to those which build up over a period of several weeks. Most, if not all, require action to be taken more quickly than the normal CAR procedures allow.
Adverse impacts on the water environment resulting from an emergency, including those resulting from actions taken to try to prevent or mitigate serious damage, can be sufficiently extensive to cause temporary deterioration of the status of a water body. The WFD allows for such deterioration of status provided certain conditions are fulfilled. These conditions include the following:
- the circumstances resulting in the deterioration must be due to an accident that could not reasonably have been foreseen; or natural causes or force majeure that are exceptional (e.g. prolonged droughts or extreme floods) or could not reasonably have been foreseen;
- all practicable steps must be taken to prevent further deterioration in the status of the affected water body and avoid compromising the achievement of the objectives set for other water bodies;
- the measures to be taken in such circumstances must not compromise the recovery of the water body once the circumstances are over; and
- any impacts are reviewed annually (as a minimum) and addressed as soon as reasonably practicable in order to restore the body of water to its previous status.
In any emergency situation resulting in temporary deterioration of the water environment, we expect the above conditions to be fulfilled.