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The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017

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Natural causes or force majeure

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18.—(1) A temporary deterioration in the status of a body of water is not a breach of the environmental objectives set for it in accordance with regulation 12 if—

(a)it is the result of—

(i)circumstances of natural cause or force majeure which are exceptional or could not reasonably have been foreseen, in particular extreme floods or prolonged droughts; or

(ii)circumstances due to accidents which could not reasonably have been foreseen; and

(b)all the conditions in paragraphs (2) to (4) are or will be met.

(2) All practicable steps are taken—

(i)to prevent further deterioration in the status of the affected body of water; and

(ii)so as not to compromise the achievement of the environmental objectives for any body of water not affected by the circumstances mentioned in paragraph (1)(a).

(3) The conditions under which circumstances are exceptional or could not reasonably have been foreseen, including the adoption of the appropriate indicators, are stated in the river basin management plan (or the next update of it).

(4) The measures to be taken under such exceptional circumstances are to be included in the programme of measures and will not compromise the recovery of the quality of the body of water once the circumstances are over.

(5) Where paragraph (1) applies, the effects of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph (1)(a) that are exceptional or that could not reasonably have been foreseen must be reviewed annually and, subject to regulation 16, all practicable measures must be taken with the aim of restoring the body of water as soon as reasonably practicable to its status prior to the effects of those circumstances.

(6) The next update of the relevant river basin management plan, in accordance with regulation 26, must include a summary of the effects of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph (1)(a) and of the measures taken or to be taken.

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