River basin planning

Closes 22 Apr 2027

Opened 22 Jun 2018


Information on this page relates to the current river basin management plans (and the consultations leading to the update).

Information on the consultations leading up to the 2027 update will be available on this page when dates have been confirmed.

Water is a precious resource that we can’t live without, from supplying drinking water and supporting fisheries to providing an essential resource to business and agriculture, and a source of recreation.

Water pollution and drought threaten these things. Therefore, it is critical that our rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal areas, wetlands and groundwater are managed properly. This ensures the needs of society, the economy and environment can be met and maintained over the long-term.

River basin planning provides an overarching strategic framework for managing the water environment. River basin management plans include the objectives and measures required to protect and improve the water environment. Water and land resources are closely linked and so river basin management plans also inform decisions on land-use planning and work alongside other plans and strategies, such as flood risk management plans.


  • Flood risk management plans and river basin management plans are strategic plans to support the delivery of the government's 25 Year Environment Plan and the National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England
  • You can find out more about flood risk and the draft flood risk management plans consultation by visiting the Introducing flood risk management plans information page


  • The river basin management plan data will remain unchanged on the catchment data explorer until the next update of the plans is published. The latest river basin planning data can be viewed alongside this data, and is updated every 3 months. You can view information on the latest updates in the catchment data explorer quarterly update information document.
  • The water body network and designations are reviewed and updated for each update to the plans. You can view details of the changes here.
  • You can view where exemptions to the environmental objectives under regulation 19 have been granted, or may be applied in future here.

Why your views matter

The current river basin management plans were published in February 2016. The proposed updated plans, available to view on the government's website from 21 October 2022, has been informed by three consultations below, which started in 2018.

By responding to these consultations you have helped to shape the management of the water environment. The information gathered through these consultations helps us produce updates to the current river basin management plans.

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.

Give Us Your Views

The consultations are your opportunity to help shape the review and update of the river basin management plans. Click on the links below for more information and to access the consultation.

Working Together: June 2018 (closed December 2018)

Through the Working Together consultation you gave us your views on the work plan, timetable and process for how we should work together with stakeholders to review and update river basin management plans in 2021.

Click here for more information on the Working Together consultation and to read our consultation response document.

Challenges and Choices: October 2019 (closing September 2020)

Through the Challenges and Choices consultation, you gave us your views on the significant water management issues and how they should be addressed. 

Click here for more information on the Challenges and Choices consultation and to read our consultation response document.

Draft updated river basin management plans: Closed April 2022

The draft updated river basin management plans consultation asks for your views on the proposed long term objectives for the water environment and the measures to achieve them.

This consultation was open for responses from 22 October 2021 for 6 months - view the consutlation response document on GOV.UK for more information. 


  • 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
  • Environment Agency colleagues


  • Business and industry
  • Flood management
  • Coastal management
  • Fishing and boating
  • Water resources
  • Water quality
  • Drought
  • Habitats and wildlife
  • Waste
  • Permits
  • Environmental permitting
  • Installation
  • Specific projects, issues, or activity pages