Memorandum by Friends of the Lake District
1. FRIENDS OF
1.1 The Friends was established in 1934
to campaign for the Lake District to become a National Park. We
are a Registered Charity with approximately 7,000 members. We
act throughout Cumbria as the County Association for the Council
for the Protection of Rural England. Our Charitable objects state
"to promote and organise concerted action for the protection
and conservation of the landscape and natural beauty of the Lake
District and County of Cumbria as a whole. . ."
1.2 We have been involved in a number of
water resources issues since our formation and have continued
to take an active role in trying to influence the water industry
on those matters appropriate to our charitable objects. We have
previously submitted a Memorandum to the Environment Committee's
Inquiry into Water Conservation and Supply (Report Published November
1996). We note that a number of the conclusions and recommendations
of that Inquiry have been taken into consideration in the draft
1.3 The main author of this Memorandum is
also Deputy Chairman of North West Water's Conservation, Access
and Recreation Advisory Committee and he previously sat on Regional
Advisory Committees for the National Rivers Authority and the
Environment Agency. One of my colleagues and three of our Trustees
sit, in their own right, on the Area Environment Groups of the
Environment Agency in the North West whilst one Trustee, in their
own right, is also a member of the Agency's Regional Environment
Protection Advisory Committee.
2. MATTERS OF
2.1 Our comments that follow are based on
our experience but are largely kept within our Charitable remit.
These are Clause 22, Clause 23, Clause 28, and Clause 53. Where
parts of the draft Bill are not commented on, it should not be
taken as approval or disapproval for those clauses.
3.1 There is one area of concern that underlines
our comments and that is the use of the term "consumer"
throughout the Bill. In this context we warmly welcome the focus
that the draft Bill puts on the position of the consumer. However,
we should want to ensure that the Bill recognises that "consumers"
is not too narrowly applied. It is our view that consumers should
be considered also as those people who benefit from the substantial
land and water body holdings of the water undertakers. These areas
offer significant opportunities for recreation and amenity. Often
they are sited in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural
Beauty or other delightful rural areas. Sometimes they constitute
more urban locations with magnificent buildings of industrial
3.2 It is our view, based on correspondence,
that OFWAT have previously looked only to standards of service
and costs of water utility bills when considering consumer interests.
They have failed to recognise this wider interest in our definition
3.3 We view the use of the word "environmental"
as also one that can too often fail to recognise the recreational,
access and conservation context. Environmental is often about
clean rivers, sustainable water resources and wider, but important
matters. The Bill would benefit from being clear about the need
to encompass recreation, access and conservation as being inclusive
within environmental especially, for example, when applied to
4. CLAUSES 22
AND 23 OF
4.1 In welcoming the establishment of these
new bodies we note that the draft Bill (including Schedule I)
offers no indication in the proposed balance of interest in the
make up of either the Water Advisory Panel or the Consumer Council
for Water (and their Regional Committees). It may be inappropriate
for the Bill to carry such an indication. However, it is our view
that this Inquiry should seek to recommend that, within the balance
of interest on these bodies, they should include a person or people
with the relevant experience in recreation, access and conservation
applicable to the wider consumer interest we have defined.
5. CLAUSE 28
5.1 We welcome the ability of the Secretary
of State to issue guidance to the Director on social and environmental
matters. There are two issues and the first, the lack of clarity
of the use of "environmental", is covered above. The
second is that this Clause appears to us to raise confusion between
the environmental duties of OFWAT and those arising from statutes
pertaining to the Water Utilities and the Environment Agency (Water
Act 1991 and the Environment Act, 1995). We think there is a need
for clarification. We can perhaps best try to explain this though
the provisions for the Water Utilities and the Environment Agency
as bodies for whom the Water Act 1991 provided a Code of Practice.
This Code was not made applicable to OFWAT. The DETR have, in
2000, re-issued that Code of Practice, and we welcome the way
it addresses the various issues related to recreation, access
and conservation for the Environment Agency and water undertakers.
5.2 We have already noted that when OFWAT
undertakes the periodic price reviews is appears to us that they
appear not to take into account the costs of the Water Utilities
in caring for their estates etc in line with this statutorily
based Code of Practice.
5.3 It would be useful if the Secretary
of State could apply the Water Act 1991 Code of Practice to OFWAT.
However if the Code is given as guidance to the Director, under
the Draft Bill Clause 28, then the Code will have a different
level of statutory emphasis on the Director's duties than currently
applies to the Environment Agency and the Utilities.
5.4 We would recommend that the Environment
Committee should consider how environmental (and social) guidance
to the Director, that follows from the enactment of Clause 28
of the draft Water Bill, might be applied to the Water undertakers
and the Environment Agency if it is equally appropriate. However,
we would be keen to encourage the Environment Committee to consider
how the Code of Practice should either form part of that guidance;
or otherwise applied to the Director. Indeed it is our view that
the Code needs a strong statutory application than its current
status in its application to relevant bodies. In addition there
is a need for a mechanism for monitoring compliance of these bodies
to be included in the legislation. This latter matter could be
considered to form part of the duties of the Water Advisory Panel
or the Consumer Council for Water.
5.5 The Environment Committee, during its
Inquiry, should further be content that the provisions of section
62 of the Environment Act, 1995 which places a duty on, amongst
other bodies, water utilities and the Environment Agency to have
regard to the statutory purposes of the establishment of National
Parks is applicable to the Director, OFWAT.
6. CLAUSE 53WATER
6.1 We welcome this clause but recognise
that water conservation is only part of the need to restrain water
resource usage. We would ask the Inquiry to consider if the words
"and water demand management" could reasonably be added
to the end of this Clause. We may have assumed wrongly that the
phrase "water conservation" already encompasses demand
management. However it is our experience that both phrases are
frequently used in tandem by the utilities and the Environment
Agency, thus implying they are considered different concepts and
both capable of applying remedies to the intention of the draft
7. If the Committee feels in need of any
further information of clarification of these points we should
be happy to supply further information.