Portrait of Professor William Howarth

Professor William Howarth

Professor of Law
Coordinator of LLM studies in International Environmental Law and Policy.


William (Bill) Howarth, B.A., LL.M., MIFM, CE, FRSA, FCIWEM is Professor of Environmental Law in Kent Law School at the University of Kent and Coordinator of International Environmental Law and Policy LLM teaching. He is a past Editor of the Journal of Water Law and author of several books on the law relating to fisheries, water pollution, aquaculture, watercourses, flood risk management and ecological conservation of the aquatic environment, and author of over 100 reports, monographs, and academic journal articles on diverse aspects of water and environmental law. He is Honorary Legal Adviser to the Institute of Fisheries Management, a member of the Committee of Fish Legal, the Regional Representative for the International Association for Water Law, a member of the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association and the Agricultural Law Association.


Bill's teaching responsibilities span Environmental Law (undergraduate), Environmental Quality Law (postgraduate), European Union Environmental Law and Policy (postgraduate) and Land Development and Conservation Law (postgraduate).


Supervision is offered for applicants interested in any area of environmental and ecological law with a national and/ EU dimension, particularly in areas relating to Howarth’s research (see Kent Academic Repository on this).


As noted above, Howarth engages with the Institute of Fisheries Management, Fish Legal, the International Association for Water Law, the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association and the Agricultural Law Association.



  • Howarth, W. (2018). Going with the Flow: Integrated Water Resources Management, the EU Water Framework Directive and Ecological Flows. Legal Studies [Online] 38:298-319. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/lst.2017.13.
    This paper seeks to relate broad structural themes in water regulation to the
    practicalities of imposing legal measures to protect aquatic ecosystems. Specifically,
    a contrast is drawn between the global imperative of Integrated Water Resources
    Management and the sectoral (issue-by-issue) approach to water regulation that has
    traditionally prevailed in both regional and national legislation. The intuitive
    attractions of ‘integration’ are contrasted with the challenge of interrelating the
    diverse purposes for which water legislation is adopted, both for human needs and
    for ecological purposes. These challenges are well illustrated in the European Union
    Water Framework Directive (WFD) which claims to adopt an ‘integrated’ approach, is
    actually concerned with water quality, largely to the exclusion of other water-related
    concerns. Insofar as the Directive does seek to secure integration between water
    quality and water quantity concerns in surface water this is only done in a secondary
    or incidental way. Water flow becomes relevant only where specified environmental
    objectives under the Directive are not being met. The legally contingent status of
    flow has been bolstered markedly by recent guidance under the WFD Common
    Implementation Strategy on Ecological Flows. The significance of this guidance is
    discussed and related to the implementation challenges that it raises. In relation to
    the UK, and particularly England, it is argued that the response to addressing water
    flow issues arising under the WFD had been dilatory and inadequate. Concluding
    observations reflect on the global, regional and national challenges for integration of
    water legislation as they have been illustrated by the discussion of regulating for
    ecological water flows.
  • Howarth, W. (2018). Integration and fragmentation in environmental and water laws. UKELA e-law newsletter [Online]. Available at: https://www.ukela.org/elaw-newsletter.
  • Howarth, W. (2017). Brexit and the United Kingdom Water Environment. Journal for European Environmental and Planning Law [Online] 14:294-314. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/18760104-01403003.
    This paper notes the UK’s impending departure from the European Union, following the Brexit Referendum in 2016, and investigates the implications of this for environmental laws generally and, more particularly, for water protection legislation. At the time of writing, the UK Government’s Brexit White Paper is the focus of attention, setting out plans to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and to replace existing EU law by corresponding national legislation. Taking the EU Water Framework Directive as a case study, the later part of the paper examines the inherent difficulties in this strategy in the particular context of water protection. It is suggested that there are major difficulties in finding national law counterparts for many of the EU obligations. Moreover, the exercise of trying to address environmental quality concerns through a purely national framework neglects the essentially transboundary character of many environmental problems and the need for a coordinated supra-national response.
  • Howarth, W. (2017). Intergrated Water Resources Management and Reform of Flood Risk Management in England. Journal of Environmental Law [Online] 29:355-365. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jel/eqx015.
    This analysis relates the global environmental imperative of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) to the policies and regulatory approaches underlying flood risk management in England. Specifically, the discussion engages with selected points of debate between the House of Commons, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and the Government, arising from the Committee’s 2016 Report on Future Flood Prevention. The Committee and the Government took markedly different positions on the ‘new governance model’ for flood risk management (proposed by the Committee) and the potential for greater use of ‘natural flood management’. This debate is reviewed and contrasted with the positions that might have been reached by applying IWRM to these issues. The opinion offered is that the neglect of water integration is a matter of concern. It is proposed that there should be a duty to have regard to IWRM in water policy and decision-making, and a review of the highly fragmented state of water legislation to identify the scope that exists for greater integration.
  • Howarth, W. (2014). Legal Perspectives on Flooding: Canute, Foster and the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. United Kingdom Environmental Law Association:21-23.
  • Howarth, W. (2012). Planning for Water Security. Journal of Planning and Environmental Law:357-373.
    This article examines water security as a concern for England and Wales. Water security is a measure of the resilience of water supplies against identifiable threats which might result in a deficit in the water available to meet essential human needs. The Water Act 2003 made provision for the preparation and publication of water resources management plans as a statutory requirement upon water supply companies, requiring them to set out how water resources will be managed and developed so as to meet statutory water supply obligations. The Guideline sets out the methodology that should be adopted by a water supply company in progressing through specified stages leading to the selection of preferred options. This involves, first, the establishment of a list of 'unconstrained options' comprising a complete and exhaustive list of all technically feasible options that could be used to address the planning problem.
  • Howarth, W. (2009). Aspirations and Realities under the Water Framework Directive: Proceduralisation, Participation and Practicalities. Journal of Environmental Law 21:391-418.
  • Howarth, W. (2009). Cost Recovery for Water Services and the Polluter Pays Principle. ERA Forum (the Journal of the Academy of European Law) [Online] 10:565-587. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12027-009-0134-3.
    This paper considers the general rationale for cost recovery pricing in respect
    of water services and examines the specific provision that is made for this,
    and related obligations, in Article 9 of the European Community Water
    Framework Directive. Despite guidance drawn from the Common
    Implementation Strategy, uncertainties remain, particularly with regard to the
    need to recover environmental and resource costs and how account should
    be taken of the polluter pays principle. Given the intractable character of
    these difficulties, it is suggested that the some of the practical outcomes and
    environmental benefits of implementation are speculative.
  • Howarth, W. (2008). 'Water Pollution: Improving the Legal Controls' in Retrospect. Journal of Environmental Law:3-5.
  • Howarth, W. (2008). The interpretation of 'Precaution' in the European Community Fisheries Policy. Journal of Environmental Law 20:213-244.
  • Howarth, W. (2006). The Progression towards Ecological Quality Standards. Journal of Environmental Law [Online] 18:3-35. Available at: http://jel.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/18/1/3.
    Environmental law still lacks coherence in many respects. Two key areas of UK and EC law—water pollution control and biodiversity protection—are examined to see whether it is possible to adopt more common approaches. A key development in pollution control law was its redirection in the last twenty years from a largely reactive instrument towards one embedded in the realisation of environmental quality objectives through precisely stated quality standards. On closer inspection, many of these standards, though, are anthropocentric in origin. The approach of using the law purposively to achieve defined objectives is much better developed in pollution legislation as compared to the law on biodiversity protection. The latter area now needs to see a similar development in ecological quality standards, while recognising that their formulation is a significantly different exercise from that of establishing environmental quality standards. The use of ecological quality standards in the Water Framework Directive is commendable, but there remain substantial reservations about the criteria adopted and the underlying basis for ecological valuation.
  • Howarth, W. (2006). Water Quality and Land Use Regulation under the Water Framework Directive. Environmental Law Review 23:351-388.
  • Howarth, W. (2005). Water Pollution Control: The Economics and Ethics of Making Polluters Pay Aldo, C. and McConnell, M. L. eds. Ocean Yearbook [Online] 19:138-161. Available at: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/hfs.cgi/00/155960.ctl.


  • Howarth, W. and Jackson, S. (2011). Wisdom's Law of Watercourses, sixth edition. [Online]. London: Sweet & Maxwell. Available at: http://www.sweetandmaxwell.co.uk/Catalogue/ProductDetails.aspx?productid=433914&recordid=4637.

Book section

  • Howarth, W. (2017). Water Pollution and Water Quality: Shifting Regulatory Paradigms. in: Rieu-Clarke, A., Allen, A. and Hendry, S. eds. Handbook on Water Law and Policy. Routledge.
  • Howarth, W. (2017). The Strategic Environmental Assessment and Water Framework Directives. in: Jones QC, G. and Scotford, E. eds. The Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive. Hart Publishing, pp. 265-282. Available at: http://www.bloomsburyprofessional.com/uk/9781782255536.
  • Howarth, W. (2015). Integrated Water Resources Management and the European Union Common Agricultural Policy. in: McMahon, J. and Cardwell, M. eds. Research Handbook on EU Agriculture Law. Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 246-268.
  • Howarth, W. and Macrory, R. (2014). The Legal Control of Pollution. in: Harrison, R. M. ed. Pollution: Causes, Effects and Control. Royal Society of Chemistry Publishing, pp. 492-521.
  • Howarth, W. (2014). The History of Water Law in the Common Law Tradition. in: Tvedt, T., McIntyre, O. and Woldetsadik, T. K. eds. History of Water Series III: Sovereignty and International Water Law. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, pp. 66-104. Available at: http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Law/International-law/Public-international-law/International-environmental-law/A-History-of-Water-Sovereignty-and-International-Water-Law-v2-Series-3?menuitem={DFF51E2F-C0BA-4928-ACC4-415188DCDEE8}.
  • Howarth, W. (2007). Substance and Procedure under the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive and the Water Framework Directive. in: Holder, J. and McGillivray, D. eds. Taking Stock of Environmental Assessment: Law, Policy and Custom. UK: Routledge, Taylor & Francis, pp. 149-190.
  • Howarth, W. (2006). Global Challenges in the regulation of Aquaculture. in: VanderZwaag, D. L. and Chao, G. eds. Aquaculture Law and Policy: Towards principled access and operations. Routledge, pp. 13-36.

Edited book

  • Howarth, W. ed. (2010). Halsbury's Laws of England, Environmental Quality and Public Health. Butterworths.
  • Howarth, W. ed. (2009). Halsbury's Laws of England, Water and Waterways. Butterworths.

Internet publication

  • Howarth, W. (2013). Integrated Water Resources Management and the Right to Water Security [FLJS Policy Brief]. Available at: http://www.fljs.org/content/regulation-law-government-publications.
  • Howarth, W. (2006). The Effectiveness of Enforcement of Environmental Legislation [Online]. Available at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/policy/enforcement/pdf/envleg-enforce-wrcreport.pdf.
    This is a research study commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as a part of its Environmental Enforcement Review and published as DEFRA Report 7208


  • Howarth, W. (2018). Brexit and Environmental Law: the layers of the onion. in: Environmental Law and Management.
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