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Register of Protected Areas under the Water Framework Directive

In accordance with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive and the associated national regulations, the Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency have compiled  Registers of Protected Areas.  Under this legislation, EHS and EPA are further required to maintain and update the register as needed.

The protected areas are identified as those requiring special protection under existing national or European legislation, either to protect their surface water or groundwater, or to conserve habitats or species that directly depend on those waters.

The register consists of an inventory of protected area sites representing the protected area categories outlined below:

  • Waters used for the abstraction of drinking water

    This is a new category of protected area which will replace the system of drinking water protection currently provided by the Surface Water Abstraction Directive (75/440/EEC) and will also incorporate groundwaters. This older Directive will be repealed at the end of 2007.

  • Areas designated to protect economically significant aquatic species

    These are protected areas established under earlier EC directives aimed at protecting shellfish (79/923/EEC) and freshwater fish (78/659/EEC).

  • Recreational Waters

    These are bathing waters designated under the Bathing Water Directive (76/160/EEC).

  • Nutrient Sensitive Areas

    These comprise nitrate vulnerable zones designated under the Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC) and areas designated as sensitive under the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC).

  • Areas designated for the protection of habitats or species

    These are areas designated for the protection of habitats or species where the maintenance or improvement of the status of water is an important factor in their protection. These are designated under the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) and the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC).

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