Challenges and Choices

Closed 24 Sep 2020

Opened 24 Oct 2019

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


This consultation is now closed - you can access all consultation content in the Challenges and Choices links document.

UPDATE: As a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, and following feedback from some of our stakeholders who are themselves affected by the outbreak, we have extended the deadline for submissions to the Challenges and Choices consultation by 5 months.  The new date for final submissions is 24 September 2020.

We urgently need to protect and improve our waters and find a better balance that meets the needs of people and nature.

Water keeps us alive, drives our economy and sustains wildlife.

Our rivers, lakes, canals, coasts and groundwater, and the essential services they provide society, are worth billions of pounds to the UK economy. 

However, wildlife and the benefits we get from our waters are threatened by the damage we are causing through development, industry, flood protection and agriculture. The climate crisis and a growing population are adding to these pressures and without concerted action will lead to irreparable harm to our planet, ourselves and future generations.

This consultation explains why water is such a vital resource. It describes the challenges that threaten the water environment. It explores how we can work together to manage our waters and looks at who should pay for the actions needed.

This consultation covers all the river basin districts (RBDs) that are entirely in England, and the Severn and Northumbria RBDs which lie partly in Wales and Scotland respectively. Further information on RBDs, including the management of significant water management issues across Wales, can be found on the Supporting Information page.

See the Guide to consultation for more detail and options on ways you can respond.

Why your views matter

We are seeking your views on the challenges our waters face and the choices and changes we all need to make to help tackle those challenges.

By responding to this consultation you will be helping to shape the management of the water environment. The information gathered through this consultation will help us update the current river basin management plans, starting with the publication of draft plans in 2021.

We will also use your responses to help us consider how some of the current approaches to the management of water in England will need to change in response to a changing climate and a growing population. We are calling this work the Water Story.


  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Fishing clubs and representative associations
  • Members of the public with an interest in the river, the species and conservation
  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Academics
  • The nuclear industry
  • All water abstractors
  • Environment Agency customers
  • Net fishing license holders
  • River based salmon angling owners/fishing clubs/organisations
  • Individual migratory salmonid licence holders
  • Business that buy salmon/supported by salmon net and rod fishing
  • Angling trade contacts
  • National based fishery, conservation and landowner organisations
  • Government family organisations
  • IDBs
  • Local authorities
  • District and parish councils
  • Environmental bodies
  • Land owners
  • Farming associations
  • Drainage associations
  • RFCCs
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Water companies
  • Members of the public
  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Community groups
  • Flood action groups
  • Metal recycling trade associations and site operators
  • Operators
  • UK Border Force
  • Medium Combustion Plants
  • Trade associations and business
  • Other regulators
  • Members of the public
  • Community groups
  • Non-governmental organisations with an interest in environmental issues
  • Environment Agency colleagues
  • Lead Local Flood Authorities
  • Local Risk Management Authorities
  • Flood Resilience Forums
  • Somerset Rivers Authority
  • Members of the public
  • Town and parish councils
  • Regional Flood and Coastal Committees
  • Internal Drainage Boards


  • Business and industry
  • Flood management
  • Coastal management
  • Fishing and boating
  • Water resources
  • Water quality
  • Drought
  • Habitats and wildlife
  • Permits
  • Environmental permitting