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Baroness Young of Old Scone: I hope that the Minister will take these amendments seriously because they do have merit. There are about 68 British Waterways reservoirs, of which 40 could be exempt from the provisions of the Bill if the amendments are not considered.

Indeed, in the early discussion on Taking Water Responsibly, those reservoirs were included in the system that the Bill was intended to control, but they disappeared from the Bill itself. We can only speculate why. The amendment would bring those reservoirs back into the system of control under the Bill. I have a number of reasons for asking the Minister to consider the amendment. First, the whole system regulated under the Bill is in a state of change. I refer to changing environmental conditions and climate change. Many canals are being upgraded and restored and their use is changing dramatically. Indeed, some reservoirs are being expanded. It is important that reservoirs are included in the licensing system to enable them to be reviewed and reassessed in terms of their environmental impact and their impact on water for other users.

Secondly, I refer to reservoirs discharging only to canals. The issue in terms of their water use is not where the water goes to, but where it comes from in terms of the catchment. All reservoirs impact on catchments. Negotiations are already under way with British Waterways on improving the control of some

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of the reservoirs which will remain outside licensing control under the Bill as presently drafted. However, that process is based on good will.

Thirdly, if the Water Framework Directive has an integrated approach to catchments it is highly likely that abstractions that impact on catchments will need to be subject to the control system if we are to comply with the directive.

Last but not least, I refer to a lack of equity. If the Bill is enacted in its present form, some reservoirs will be exempted from the measure but controlled by the canals Acts—some of the canals Acts are as aged as the hills—whereas others will be controlled by licences under the Bill. I believe that that signals a lack of equity, a two-tier approach and a lack of control with regard to some reservoirs which could impact on the environment and other users. I hope that the Minister will consider the amendment.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith: It is a pleasure to be angling from the same bank as the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, and, indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer. I rather felt that on the previous group of amendments we had England and Scotland angling on opposite banks of the River Tyne and that they had their lines crossed.

The amendment contains a serious point on which I believe there is general agreement. I hope that the Minister will give an encouraging response. In one sense British Waterways is not a water abstractor in that the water comes out of the system and goes back into it. However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, said, for as long as British Waterways has that water it is not available for other use and there is an abstraction problem in that regard.

The group of amendments that we are discussing merits serious consideration on the part of the Government. I look forward to hearing the Minister's reply.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I was interested to hear the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Young. There is no doubt that problems exist in this regard. I am particularly interested in Amendment No. 12, which states:

    "A water system of the authority's with which that reservoir is connected".

Some canals are fed directly from river systems via weirs. Obviously, to keep the canal system going, particularly during the summer, it has to be supplied with enough water. However, that undoubtedly has a serious impact on some rivers. A balance needs to be struck here—which can be achieved only by means of a licensing system—between the water requirements of the canals and the need for adequate flows in rivers.

I believe I am right in saying that British Waterways sells water from its canals to industry and to other users, as it has every right to do. However, if that is to be deregulated, problems could arise as there may be competition for water which is required elsewhere in the system. On the other hand, canals have become

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extremely popular. The Brecon and Monmouth canal in my area has attracted much investment. I take off my hat to British Waterways for the work it has done on that canal. However, the issue we are discussing needs to be resolved in a fair and equitable fashion so that the water resource is properly managed. I question whether that part of the water resource to which I have referred should be outside the licensing system.

Lord Whitty: There is misunderstanding about the provisions that we are discussing. I am not prepared to accept the arguments that have been put forward for the amendment. We are not talking about British Waterways and other navigation authorities being exempt from the main provisions. Their reservoirs that feed an ongoing system, which connects with the rest of the system, are part of the abstraction process. What we are talking about now is the proposed exemption in the Bill which is limited to reservoirs whose sole outlet is directly to a canal, and where there are no other waters which are dependent on the flows from those reservoirs; in other words, it is a closed system.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said, British Waterways has about 40 reservoirs which would qualify for that exemption. All the other reservoirs of British Waterways and the other navigation authorities would be subject to all the requirements of the system. Many of the exempted reservoirs are small and most are close to the canals they serve. Some do not even have any catchment as they take excess canal water in wet weather in order to return it to the canal in dry weather. Therefore, there is no way in which that water could be used for other purposes. However, if the water from those reservoirs were to be sold at any point, it would become subject to abstraction licensing as it would become subject to the terms of the Water Resources Act.

Further, if that water were needed in a drought, the water from those reservoirs or the canals which they serve could be requisitioned by a drought order. It is not as if the water that we are discussing is totally exempt. However, the same considerations do not apply to a closed system as apply to systems which are not closed; it is not a question of a lack of equity. We are talking here about reservoirs in the context of closed systems. However, as I say, if the water from such reservoirs—irrespective of whether they belong to British Waterways or to other navigation authorities—were to be sold, it would become subject to abstraction licensing and it could be requisitioned under the terms of a drought order.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I shall have to read carefully the Minister's reply. I believe that he mentioned a different sort of reservoir, but presumably it is still the same sort of water. If the Bill is to cover the very small reservoirs that farmers tend to construct on their land, I do not understand why British Waterways is able to keep its reservoirs outside the system. As I say, I shall read carefully the Minister's reply and take further advice on the matter. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 12 to 14 not moved.]

Clause 5 agreed to.

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood moved Amendment No. 15:

    After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

(1) A licence granted under this Chapter to abstract water to prevent interference with any mining, quarrying or engineering operations (whether underground or surface) or to prevent damage to works resulting from any such operations ("de-watering abstraction") shall be stated to take effect and to expire simultaneously with any planning permission or any extension or amendment to any planning permission granted for such mining, quarrying or engineering operations instead of a specific date, or dates, in the licence for the de-watering abstraction itself.
(2) In all other respects, reference in this Chapter to the date on which a licence is stated to take effect and on which it expires is to be taken, insofar as a licence for de-watering abstraction is concerned, refers to the commencement and expiry dates comprised in any planning permission authorising the mining, quarrying or engineering operations relevant to the de-watering abstraction."

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 15, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 31 and 61 with which it is appropriately grouped. In so doing I declare an interest as the non-executive chairman of Quarry Products Association.

All the amendments in the group relate to specific—but I should like to think unintended—inappropriate consequences of some of the provisions of the Bill for the efficiency of the quarrying industry. Without an effective quarrying industry many of the Government's policies cannot be carried through, not least the building of the 500,000 houses of which we have already taken note. Therefore, if the consequences I mentioned are unintended, it is important that we note them now.

My basic contention is that the abstraction of water to enable mining and quarrying to continue below the level of the water table is not equivalent to the abstraction of water for any other purposes. The water in question is either stored or returned immediately to the same water catchment area without contamination. Therefore, the abstraction of the water is on a different footing from the abstraction of water for use or for sale or for other purposes. Basically, as the holes in the quarry fill up to the level of the water table, the water is pumped out, additional quarrying is carried out and the water is returned. There is no loss.

I noted and welcomed the comments that the Minister made earlier; namely, that the Bill is essentially concerned with quantity of water. In the case of the quarrying industry, the quantity is not at issue. Should there be any minor sediment extracted at the same time as one gets to the lower levels of the abstraction process, the water is cleaned and then returned and the sediment taken out. Therefore, I believe that the provisions of the Bill should not apply to that form of abstraction. That is the point behind Amendment Nos. 186 and 187, which we are not discussing at the moment. However, it is a context within which the amendments we are discussing have

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to be seen because if the later amendments were to be accepted the earlier amendments would not have the same force or perhaps necessity.

However, I now address the amendments before us, starting with Amendment No. 15. Amendments Nos. 15, 31 and 61 concern effectively time, money and location. The issue in Amendment No. 15 is time. It concerns the appropriateness of having a consonance of time periods between the licence granted to abstract water and the planning permission granted for mining and quarrying purposes. If such a consonance of time periods occurs, the industry will remain in good health because effective planning horizons for investments can be observed. But if the time period covered by the abstraction licence does not accord with that of the planning permission granted for the extraction of minerals, the industry faces a double hazard. The point behind Amendment No. 15 is that the licence to abstract water should run concurrently with the relevant planning permissions.

Amendment No. 31 deals with the implications of that not being the case. It is effectively a request for compensation and eligibility for compensation to be written into the Bill.

Amendment No. 61 deals with a slightly different but very specific point. It is an attempt to seek clarification. The clarification which is sought has to do with the expression in Clause 20(2)(a),

    "for abstraction from the same point as the abstraction licensed".

I refer in particular to the phrase "from the same point". If a new licence is granted for abstraction from the same point, that should not be taken in a semi-Euclidean fashion but should apply to the whole footprint of the planning permission already granted. So it would effectively be a licence to abstract water within the same quarry and within the curtilage of the same planning permission.

Those are the reasons for the amendments that I have tabled. I believe that they have real significance, particularly if the later amendments are not accepted. I beg to move.

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