New section 39E Joint proposals
637 Subsection (1) introduces a new power for the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers to direct water undertakers to prepare and publish joint proposals.
638 Subsection (2) provides that a joint proposal is a proposal identifying measures that may be taken jointly by the undertakers for the purpose of improving the management and development of water resources. Such proposals are currently being developed on a voluntary basis by water undertakers working together in regional groups. Such directions can require those joint proposals to include measures to support the achievement of relevant environmental objectives.
639 Subsection (3) clarifies that a water undertaker must not prepare a joint proposal that includes measures that prevent water undertakers meeting their obligations under Part 3 of the Water Industry Act 1991. Part 3 includes, in particular, water undertakers’ water supply duties.
640 Subsection (4) provides that the Minister may specify the form that the joint proposals must take, any specified matter they must address, a particular area they should cover, any specific criteria they should address, and any planning assumptions they must be based upon. The directions are likely to require matters that change over time and location are addressed, for example, population, climate change or drought projections.
641 Subsection (5) provides that any directions must be set out in writing. This is consistent with the approach to other powers in the Water Industry Act 1991 under which the relevant Minister may direct water undertakers as to certain matters.
642 Subsection (6) provides that each undertaker to whom a direction applies must comply with the direction.
643 Subsection (7) provides that a direction under this subsection would be enforceable by the Minister under Section 18 of the Water Industry Act 1991. This is consistent with the current approach to water resources management plan and drought plan directions.
644 Subsection (8) provides that the power to make directions under new section 39E is conferred on the Secretary of State for water undertakers whose areas are wholly or mainly in England and Welsh Ministers in relation to water undertakers whose areas are wholly or mainly in Wales.
645 Subsection (9) provides that, where new section 39E refers to matters "specified", this means specified in a direction under that section.