Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 340-346)



  340. And you think that the power should be included in this legislation?
  (Mr Marsden) We do, on that specific point, yes.

  341. Are there other matters that you think should be in this legislation which are not in?
  (Mr Marsden) I have mentioned the issue of the duty and the Consumer Council. They are Section 28G authorities within the meaning of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. As to whether or not there needs to be a cross-linking measure within the Bill to ensure that comes through the Water Bill, no, I think it is sufficient.
  (Ms Giacomelli) The main thing is the powers to underpin the catchment abstraction management strategies to enable the Environment Agency to manage water resources effectively. I think the time limited licences, bringing their existing licences right into the time limited structure without compensation payable, is the key thing.

  342. Would you like the regulator to have more of a duty to deal with environmental issues? Is that not really saying that you cannot do it so hand it over to somebody else? Should you not be shouting loud and clear and then you do not need someone else to do it because you will be able to influence it?
  (Mr Marsden) Of course we are not the primary regulator across the water environment. That is the Environment Agency from whom you were taking evidence earlier this morning. Our regulatory role is very specific to designated sites. We have stronger powers than ever before under the new Act but we are still heavily reliant even there on the Environment Agency and the review of the consent process which is currently under way.

  343. But is it not better for you to have the powers to shout loud and clear rather than to give somebody else the duty to consider the matter which they may not think as important when they have considered it?
  (Mr Marsden) What we would like the Director General to be about is sustainable management of water resources. That takes account of the social, the economic and the environmental and it should be the duty of the regulator to ensure that.

  344. So you would transfer some staff from yourselves and from the Environment Agency over to the regulator?
  (Mr Marsden) We are already short staffed to deliver on the new Act. The answer to that would have to be no.

Christine Butler

  345. I know this is primarily about water resources and management and so on, but what about pollution? Are you interested in any of those aspects of the water environment whereby if—and I am being very broad brush there—any kind of harm was caused to water courses or to ground water through pollution, and do you think there is scope for measures to deal with that within a Water Bill or not, from your point of view and as it affects ecology?
  (Mr Marsden) It is difficult to capture this in the current Water Bill, but at the top of our agenda is currently to diffuse pollution from agriculture. It is increasing and increasingly serious and we are actively engaged with the Environment Agency to begin to tackle that.


  346. But you do not see it as something to be tacked onto this Bill?
  (Mr Marsden) It is very difficult to do.

  Chairman: On that note, thank you very much for your evidence.

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 3 April 2001