Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses(Questions 200-219)




  200. Just for the record, you are Baroness Young, since you are wearing your House of Lords doings around your neck.
  (Baroness Young) I absolve myself from that.

  201. Chief Executive of the Environment Agency. Dr Martin Griffiths, who is Head of Water Quality, and Dr Andrew Skinner, who is Head of Environmental Quality. Can I make a confession first. I am finding it incredibly difficult just to get my head around what the Water Framework Directive really is. We have just been hearing about the need for consultation. If somebody came and consulted me on it I think I would find myself groping for some sort of landing light, some physical thing I could get hold of that would give me a way into it. Without repetition, hesitation or deviation, do you think you could just tell me in a nutshell if you found yourself on the doorstep of 12 Acacia Avenue and you happened to find some unfortunate pensioner there and you were telling them what this is all about, what would you tell them it is all about?
  (Baroness Young) For a start I think I would not try to go to Acacia Avenue and talk about the Water Framework Directive because one of our key principles is that when we are involved in public consultation or engagement with stakeholders we actually talk to them about things that they are interested in rather than things that we are interested in. I think that is the fundamental principle. Basically the selling line for the Water Framework Directive is that it is a framework that integrates a whole load of things that are happening in the water environment already in this country and gives them a degree of bringing together so that they do not fight against each other, that they actually produce the most cost-effective results and that they take a holistic look at catchments as well as rivers and move away from the traditional approach to regulating discharges and abstractions and look at not only the way in which river catchments operate but also the way in which land management impacts on the quality of our rivers. I would probably lapse gently, if I was stuck with Acacia Avenue, into salmon and otters on occasions but I would also lapse into cleaner rivers in our cities, which are currently still less satisfactory than rural rivers. I would talk about the ability for effective catchment and river basin management to add value in terms of regeneration and to provide better quality of life because of a clean river environment and the sorts of habitats that that supports. I would talk about more sustainable water supplies for agriculture and for industry and for people in the face of climate change. It is about how do we do a good job by the management of our water resources in this country in an integrated way.

  202. Let us say that I have digested all that and I have read all the stuff about River Basin Management Plans, what I deduce from this is that there is going to be some incredibly powerful supremo or body which is going to say "You do that, you do the other. Farmers, you stop this. No, do not build there", but when you look at it closely you find it difficult to see how it is all going to actually happen. You have set up the management board but are they going to be in the business of co-ordinating it, trying to persuade somebody to do this and heckling somebody to do that and encouraging somebody else to do the other? How does it all get done at the end of the day? What powers do the people who are doing it have to get it done?
  (Baroness Young) A lot of this will depend on getting the right degree of engagement and commitment from a whole range of bodies, as is the case at the moment in the management of the water environment. There will be a range of folk who are extremely important to this, particularly local authorities, developers, farmers. That range of stakeholders will have to be brought into the process in a variety of ways because what is appropriate, for instance, in dealing with a Regional Development Agency is less appropriate in dealing with a one-man band farmer somewhere. We have got to find the right mechanisms for informing, for engaging, for involving and for helping people take part in decision making at the level that is appropriate to them. We will need some additional legislative powers and we would very much like to see duties laid on some of these key stakeholders, particularly local authorities with their planning role.

  203. But as things stand, and are likely to stand, the decisions which will be taken once we are down this road and have got there will be taken by precisely the same people who are taking the decisions now, but hopefully they will all be doing it in a co-ordinated way according to some grand strategy. Nobody is going to take over the decisions from anybody else. Planning is not going to go to some supremo or CAP is not suddenly going to be repatriated into some office in Wigan or wherever.
  (Baroness Young) In fact, it is the usual fall guy act for the Environment Agency. We do get given these jobs where we are given the responsibility for delivering something but then you discover you can only do it through 6,000 or 7,000 other bodies or, in the case of farmers, 180,000 farmers. We will continue to hopefully hone up the techniques for developing those partnerships and those stakeholder engagement processes.

  204. When you said a minute ago that you needed a few more powers, we have agreed that you are there to try and get other people to do what needs to be done to deliver this but you may need that little bit more power to your elbow, what bits of power are you talking about?
  (Baroness Young) The planning one is the major one. Local authorities are clearly very key in this. The one thing that I think took quite a lot of people a long time to discover about the Water Framework Directive is that it is not just about water, it is probably more about land use than anything else, so the two major impacts on land use are planning development and agriculture and both of those we have got to find ways of dealing with. I do not think we will ever have strong legislative holds over individual farmers, but we certainly would want to see planning authorities with a duty to take account of the requirements of the Water Framework Directive in their planning role. I should, for the record, not downgrade these two chaps here since they are both doctors. If I could ask Dr Skinner if he wants to add anything on that one.
  (Dr Skinner) There are things that we need as an agency to be amplified in terms of our regulatory toolkit. Some of those are proposed under the Water Bill, others will come by other means. It is actually a partnership and it is the way in which all the powers which the various parties involved use and use together. The binding agent is not a supremo, it is the River Basin Plan and the commitments in there, which is a statutory plan under the stewardship of the Secretary of State, subject to scrutiny by Brussels, which will be the way in which UK Limited, England and Wales Limited in our case, is over-viewed in terms of how well that is working.

  205. There is going to be an enormous overlap, is there not, because the river basin is a geographical area which is wholly at odds with any known administrative structure that exists in the United Kingdom at the moment. You might be dealing with half a dozen counties, God knows how many district authorities, RDAs, and many of them will then have to cope with a whole different series of River Basin Plans themselves. It is going to be a tremendous job for anybody to unravel where all these rivers are going administratively.
  (Dr Skinner) We are not in new ground here. This is the way we work and have worked in the Agency and in predecessor bodies in the past. Water, because it transcends administrative boundaries, is something which has to be managed in that way and a lot of the things that we do, the LEAPs that have been talked about, the Flood Management Plans, is not new ground, it is being raised to a higher profile.

  206. It is not ground at all.
  (Dr Skinner) There are issues about the way that is understood and consulted on. This is a better way of doing old things rather than something that is completely new. Indeed, the problem you describe is a lot more of a political tension in other Member States where they have not had the experience that we have had. I am not complacent or suggesting that we have got it all licked but we have got a head start here and we are used to it. It is a matter of raising the game rather than inventing a new game.

  Chairman: I suppose at least it is downhill all the way in a sense.

Mr Jack

  207. With the forbearance of the Committee I would like to just put to you a little story about Biodiversity Action Plans which I think may have some relevance to what we are discussing but also to illustrate the enormity of the task that you are involved in. It was about four years ago when I attended the launch of the North West Biodiversity Action Plan in Warrington at United Utilities' headquarters. Last year I began to wonder what happened to it because I had not seen any local manifestations of it, so I wrote to the Government Office in the North West and they wrote back to me and said "The DEFRA Regional Biodiversity Sub-Group will be reporting shortly to the England Biodiversity Group on the effectiveness of regional biodiversity fora within the context of regional governmental framework". I then waited to see what happened and I became advised that something called Champs was relevant to this, so I wrote some more letters about Champs, and this seemed to be the key to unlocking biodiversity decisions in and around the coastal areas of Lancashire where I live in the Ribble. Then I got a letter from DEFRA saying "No, you do not have to have Champs". Then I wrote to the county's Environment Director who said that he was waiting for this strategic framework to arrive so that the work of the Lancashire Biodiversity Action Plan Steering Group, which involved English Nature, Lancashire County Council, Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Environment Agency, NFU, CLA, RSPB, Central and West Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, National Gamekeepers' Organisation and the Lancashire Association of Parish and Town Councils, could all contribute to this wonderful exercise. I could go on and I could read out more and more of this jargon laden correspondence about producing a Biodiversity Plan to deal either with salt marshes, river estuaries or Lancashire as a whole. It seems to me we have been waiting years to get our act together on one part that will inform this exercise and regional planning guidance and nothing but a lot of letters appear to have been produced. Against this background, how are you ever going to get your act together for a Water Framework Directive?
  (Baroness Young) Could I comment on that because it is something near and dear to my heart in knowing how on earth we have managed to get biodiversity action planning to become a paper producing product rather than a wildlife producing product. I think the lesson from that is two-fold. One is that life is complicated and there is a whole range of stakeholders that need to be got together. I noticed that 12 Acacia Avenue was not on that list. The reality is these are stakeholders rather than the public. There are other mechanisms we need to inform the public even if we are not going to engage every one of the 54 million. The other message from that is the Biodiversity Action Plan process is a useful one because it is a uniting feature. The thing about the Water Framework Directive is that it is a uniting feature but we have got to make sure that we do not invent totally bureaucratic processes, which is why we are not very keen on the idea of plethoras of standing committees, we are much keener on looking at what the appropriate mechanism for engaging the right folk in the right place at the right level at the right cost is as we move through the process. So, for example, at the moment the national stakeholder body is probably about the right level because we are dealing with technical stuff that quite frankly nobody else wants to get their hands dirty with. When we are into the business of making effective decisions about the way in which the strategic future of some of these river basins will go we will want to talk much more to local stakeholders and, indeed, help engage the public, but let us not make it paper and bureaucracy driven, let us make it fit for purpose, light touch and cost effective.

  208. That is a lovely bit of painting over what has happened. The point I am getting at here is we are talking about an exercise which has been going on for some years. The Biodiversity Action Plan was the result of some more years' worth of work. Two gigantic tomes of analysis were produced. I would have thought by now people would have got their acts together because the information contained in it does have some profound effects on the analysis of flora and fauna in the river basin areas that you are now going to create another piece of superstructure to deal with. If this lot cannot get their act together on these things now, what confidence do I have that the mechanism that you have described will actually deliver the kind of co-ordination and engagement of all of these bodies when some of the basic information that you need in the process you have described to us is not even available?
  (Baroness Young) There are two things there. One is that the key focus for us in the Framework Directive is outcomes. There is absolutely no point in all of this going ahead if, in fact, the environment does not get better. There are mechanisms for judging the environmental outcomes as part of the Framework Directive process. That is going to be showdown time because if the environmental indicators do not get any better we know we are not making an impact. The other issue is about information. Biodiversity came from a long way back in the queue, quite frankly, and a considerable amount of work has gone on over the last 30, 40, 50 years in pulling together information about qualitative and quantitative issues around rivers. We are in a much better state, which is one of the reasons why we have not entered into the pilot project process with a pilot in the UK because much of that technical understanding and sophisticated insight about the nature of the rivers and the way they work and the data and information is already there because as a nation we have been ahead of the game compared with many other European states. I am sure Andrew or Martin will want to comment on how we avoid getting into the mire of the Biodiversity Action Plan process.
  (Dr Skinner) What you describe is a lesson in how not to do it. I think the issue arises around the perhaps nebulous nature of what is being sought in Biodiversity Action Plans. Although we get to test these things out, and we plan to do so, it seems to us that the way we will actually bridge that gap between achieving the outcomes and getting some understanding of it is by making the issues locally relevant and specific. All catchments are not the same, they have different issues. Achieving status in different catchments requires different things in different places. The experience we have with, I will use the local Environment Agency Plans, LEAPs, as an example, is they are things that people can engage with, although not everyone wants to engage with them, and they are understandable. That seems to me a model which will give more confidence than the one that you have described, but it is a risk and we have got to find ways of doing it and be aware that the whole process of characterisation and making plans is quite easy, and in some ways by some of the work in Europe is being turned into a bit of an art form in its own right, and we have got to be very hard on that.

Patrick Hall

  209. Both Andrew Skinner and Barbara Young said words to the effect that Britain is ahead of the game in terms of implementing the Water Framework Directive. I do not think I have misrepresented what either of them said there. I think it is really important that we explore the evidence that we are ahead of the game because there may be some people who think that we have not made a particularly good start in this direction, so how is it that we are ahead of the game? What is it about the Environment Agency, for example, that gives us the means of addressing these issues better than other European Union states?
  (Dr Skinner) I was not speaking about the Environment Agency, I was talking about the country as a whole. I was making the point in respect of the way our current institutions are set up. I was addressing the question of the complexity of interactions between public authorities of various kinds and catchments. What I am saying is that since 1945 through flooding and right through other environmental issues we have had catchment based planning and interaction between bodies like the Agency and local authorities and they have been on a catchment basis. It is in that sense that we have the experience. It is not experience which is sufficient for the purpose but it is an advantage and it gives us some confidence that we can handle these cross-boundary multi-agency issues. I said I was not complacent about it, I am just saying that we do have some experience under our belt about how these institutional links might work together. In terms of implementing the Directive, that is a different issue.

  210. Are we ahead in implementing the Directive?
  (Baroness Young) Can I just comment on that. If you look at the Directive timetable following when DEFRA is going to hit the timetable for regulation, we are certainly going to hit for characterisation. We have got a head start in that much of the catchment based planning and management you have heard about has produced data sets and insights into the nature of these rivers and the catchments that perhaps, for example, the Irish do not have or that does not exist in totality around the Danube and that is why the pilots are having to be done there. That has meant that we are able to build on what was a very good start in the UK and move forward to hit those early timetables. We will then run out of oomph if we are not careful because at that stage we are out in an area where nobody has got any experience other than the innate stuff we have got from dealing with catchments in the past, and that is really looking at the whole River Basin Plan issue. Our early head start runs out if we do not keep the momentum up, so we do need to keep that momentum up so that we move forward from where we are.

  211. Does that not link to the very telling and amusing but relevant story that my colleague just told us about people willing to talk to each other and work together on an ad hoc voluntary basis? We are doing that but it does not lead to the rigorous approach that is needed for issues like the Water Framework Directive. I do want to compare with our European Union partners. Where is it that we are definitely ahead of them that we do not need to, for example, have a pilot river basin study and they do?
  (Baroness Young) Let me just touch briefly on the differences between the Biodiversity Action Plan process and the Water Framework Directive. The Biodiversity Action Plan has no statutory basis other than a very, very gentle one that we managed to stuff into the Countryside and Rights of Way Act when it was going through the House, so the drivers simply are not there. Much of what is in the Framework Directive, both the pre-existing activities in terms of water quantity and water quality, has got a statutory basis, as does some of the habitats stuff, therefore I think we have got a different scenario there and that is why that is struggling, quite frankly, I think it has never had enough statutory oomph behind it. We sit on, and Martin is very heavily involved in, the CIS process Europe-wide, so he can talk about his perception of how we are doing compared with the rest of Europe.
  (Dr Griffiths) I must say that it is seen in many parts of Europe as the British Directive because it was brought in to consolidate catchment management of the water cycle as a whole. That is seen as a huge advantage. When you are dealing with cross-border rivers, like the Rhine, like the Danube, the problems that Holland have are compounded by the problems of Germany, Austria and others up there. That is the main coming together of the whole. We have been working this way for many years, 30 or 40 years. We are used to planning river quality on outcomes. We also have a catchment based privatised water industry, which again is thinking about how to protect that resource, how to allocate it, how to deal with scarce resources. Also the investment rounds by the water industry over the last 15 years or so have brought them up to speed with things like the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, which is largely in place, all of which are a very good foundation for this. Work on the Habitats Directive again is starting to give us relationships between ecology and the chemistry and the other physical factors that fit in. There I think we are in good stead. I think we should exploit this in the United Kingdom. Our German counterparts have done a lot of work and we have done a lot of work with the German la­nder to let them understand how we go about it. They see this as a big way forward to dealing with their water problems.

  212. Can I just qualify something Baroness Young said, a decision was taken not to undertake one of the pilots, become involved in one of the pilot studies, because the kinds of information and research that such a study would aim to produce was already available in this country. Could I just ask, the decision was taken by DEFRA, presumably on the advice of the Environment Agency and other agencies?
  (Baroness Young) The pilots were very much driven by the need to promote some countries to get the technical information and insight but also to include issues like public participation. We looked with DEFRA at the resources available, both technical and money, and came to the conclusion that there were other things that needed that sort of focus, particularly making sure that the Common Implementation Strategy went in the right direction. You know Europe: if you want to see bureaucracy, have it invented by a common implementation strategy. Our view now is that we are probably at the point where there needs to be some sort of piloting of other issues as other pilots are doing across Europe. Dr Skinner has been in discussions with DEFRA about where we might go forward on that.
  (Dr Skinner) There is no objection in principle to doing this, it is a matter of priorities, resources and the right time. As Barbara Young said we, with DEFRA, took the view that the resources available at the Agency at the time were best used to input the Common Implementation Strategy because, as we said in our evidence, decisions about whether boundaries are between the various categories of classification are crucial in terms of cost and how effective it will be. We do believe that some of the basic issues, the data capture around the catchment, which is what some of the pilots are testing, is something that we have a lot of experience on. Reflecting on what we have been saying already about the issues of institutional engagement we will focus on institutions rather than the public because in many cases, as I have already explained, the plan would be implemented by the powers that other bodies have, including in addition with the agency. That is something that is new and needs to be worked on. The kind of proposals we propose to work on and present to DEFRA are round building what we have and linking it to the characterisation of catchment, which is going to start right now and go forward for the next two years, to use the information from that to test out the ways in which, using the comments we made about making it practical and unbureaucratic, we can get the institutional engagement. I think it is no good going along and talking in abstract about how planning authorities, RDAs, agencies and drainage boards are going to engage we have to talk about some real life examples and that is what we can bring forward from the characterisation process, which is the next job which has to be done to implement the Directive.
  (Baroness Young) Can I take a point forward from that, I think the most difficult stakeholder group to engage with is going to be farmers. We do need to use the changes that are happening elsewhere in the Common Agricultural Policy reform in this country and in the midterm review to make sure that farmers are best supported to be able to play their role in the Framework Directive. We are involved in a variety of discussions with DEFRA looking at the entry level scheme for farmers which will bring a broader sway of farmers into some sort of environmental programme and also working with the National Farmers' Union on environmental management standards, which will be a simple way of farmers thinking in a systematic way about their environmental impact and how as part of their farm business they can manage in ways which will reduce their environmental impact and help them help us deliver the Framework Directive. It is going to be horses for courses in this one. The sort of things we are going to have to do in order to get farmers moving in the right direction are going to be very different from those things that we want to do with a local community and engaging with them about what they want for their water course. Our view of the consultative and informative process is, how do we get delivery, how do we better the environment? That is going to be our primary objective.

  213. Baroness Young, if all of the leaks are to be believed in the Queen's speech next Wednesday there will be a Water Bill and there will also be a Planning Bill, would you expect the Water Framework Directive to influence those Bills or are they completely disconnected issues?
  (Baroness Young) The Water Bill will certainly contain some mechanisms without which we would find it difficult to get the Water Framework Directive delivered. I am not as clear yet what is going to be in the Planning Bill. I do not think anybody is. We would be interested in seeing how there could be responsibilities laid on planning authorities to take account of the water Framework Directive. Andrew will be able to talk in more detail about what is in the Water Bill that helps take the Water Framework Directive forward.
  (Dr Skinner) The Water Bill in draft form has some essential elements, particularly in relation to abstraction licensing, we would find it difficult to implement the Framework Directive without that amendment to our powers. They are not substantial and they will not be needed immediately for the Framework Directive but they are there for other reasons as well, they come forward from other consultation documents on water resource management. The Government has taken the view that the Framework Directive itself would probably implement regulations and therefore that is not an essential part of any future bill. The issue of, particularly planning authorities and the way in which the River Basin Plan achieves its statutory status and in some way is engaged on the delivery of those parts of the action plans, River Basin Plans which are dealt with by the land use planning issues, that is a material issue and it is something we cannot see how that can be done without some enabling arrangements through planning legislation.

  214. If I can move on to looking at timetables, there is criticism that the timetables are unrealistic. I have figures somewhere, the duties are for 2003, we are talking about commencing in 2012 and concluding by 2025. If those dates are wrong please tell me. Is this real politics? Is this really practical, the ability to deliver those dates, given that we are talking about a pretty diversified group of countries, even more so when the new entrants come in. We have discussed that in a previous sessions. If this is not going to fall into some sort of contempt who is going to get it right, drive it along and keep to those timetables?
  (Baroness Young) This is a cyclical process and I think it is going to be one of those that builds up quite frankly. We all make the timetable. It will depend on the depth and sophistication and the quality of the first cut, as it were. I suspect that will be the case for other European countries, particularly the accession states, where they may get some sort of management plan but it may not be much cop in the first instance but it is going to be a start for the next review and on a six yearly basis. We will hit our timetable here but we will have to make some decisions about what is achievable, about best-fit solutions, about the degree of intensity and sophistication of the plan we can produce. That, no doubt, will be hotly contentious.
  (Dr Griffiths) I think that the overall idea of a five or six year cyclical plan, we use this with the water industry, that is a very good way of going forward. We would like to see it extended. Again the Framework Directive gives us the iteration of the 20 or 30 year plan we need for things like water resources. It is for others to make sure that some of the commitments that are needed over a much longer time frame are there to allow good quality planning and the right development of assets, not only in the water industry but also in the other industries, for example agricultural, it is that stable platform with an iterative basis. We go about regulation with industry, it is very useful to say, you must reach this standard in this time to give them a chance to finance and plan ahead in terms of what other factors are in place and then to go back and revisit and fine tune. We are very much thinking about fine tuning in those later iterations we hope but nevertheless there will be things that start to appear. At the moment we have made a great deal of progress with point source pollution in England and Wales and we are now starting to notice some of the diffuse source issues. It is an iterative process. I think the philosophy of the iterative plan is, yes, the start is quite ambitious and will stretch us very hard. We need to make sure we do it fit-for-purpose and in a constructive way to allow us to plan and to get the finances that are necessary.

  215. The key elements are going to be how you monitor and report on improvements, will this require primary legislation to set up a mechanism in this country, which is obviously comparable to what is going to happen else where? Can you give me an indication of what progress is being made on that at the moment?
  (Dr Skinner) The second consultation document makes a statement on behalf of the government that they will do this by enabling regulations and not by primary legislation. That can be done. The monitoring framework is in place, it needs to be modified and extended and developed and some of the CIS work is going to make sure that is consistent across Europe. The reporting cycle, which we expect the Commission to take a close interest in to integrate and compare, will be in place. Of course there will be long term changes on top of this, climate change is a very good example. We would expect the re-evaluation of plans in 2025 to say different things to what they say in 2008 not because people have changed their mind or have different priorities but merely because we know more about big issues driving environmental change. That needs to be in the system to enable it to adapt to changing circumstances. I expect some of the River Basin Plans will contain commitments to investigate things to find out information that is not available to allow reasoned judgments at that time so they be incorporated. That is the way the current pricing review in the water industry works. We do work in one cycle to inform cost effective decisions in the next one.

  216. How much flexibility is there around start and end date, given you talk about the cycles? That is going to make it quite complicated at a super European level to be able to monitor and report on progress being made across Europe. We have our monitoring and reporting mechanisms, how competent would they be and how transferable would they be in terms of the wider issues?
  (Dr Skinner) The dates in the Directive are mandatory.

  217. They are!
  (Dr Skinner) I expect the Commission to follow that rigorously. We have issues about the fact that domestic dates and cycles do not fit in. We are doing something called CAMS at the moment, Catchment Abstraction Management Plans, which have many elements in common with the Framework Directive in terms of cyclical review but the dates are not in synch with European dates and we are going to have to adapt our programme to fit the Framework Directive dates, like other countries who at that stage will do the same. The advantage will then be that at a European level there will be an overview using a monitoring system which has been informed by the Common Implementation Strategy using data to enforce the Directive. Providing everyone plays by the rules it should be a very good way of Europe having an overview of its environmental issues.
  (Baroness Young) There is one other domestic issue in that, that is the current cycle for the water price review for water companies is a five year one out of kilter with the Framework Directive process and, to be honest, almost quite unhelpful. If we are looking at the Water Framework Directive in the long term we are looking at the long term change and long term management of river basins. Having a five year stop/start process in the water price review is quite unhelpful. We have been talking to the water regulator about how that price review framework around the commercial water companies can begin to take account of some of these longer term issues in water company planning so that we are not restricting them entirely to what they have agreed in terms of their financial framework for the five year period.
  (Dr Skinner) If might be worth saying, again your question about fitting across Europe and maintaining standards, how important the Common Implementation Strategy is. I believe it is a first in Europe because with previous directives what has tended to happen is that each Member State has gone away, written its own regulations and done what it thought was necessary and then five years down the road the Commission complains when somebody takes a action, "oh dear, we have not got that quite right". This is going to give us some guidance, it is only guidance, to try to get that platform about setting thresholds for marine freshwater, and things like this, that will enable us to check and to get a better idea amongst Member States as to what thresholds we should be aiming for and how we go about that.

Mr Mitchell

  218. Baroness Young said this was about land use rather than anything else, I wonder whether one of the biggest changes in the next few years is going to be in water use. Salmon farming is flourishing in Scotland, we are moving on to turbot farming, and I understand from Norway that their experimenting in cod farming. All this has an effect on estuarial waters, does it not, what is going to happen? If this is going to be rapidly developed, as it may well be, given the fact that the CFP has pretty well abolished cod in the North Sea, is it going to be a blight on the development of fish farming or how are you going to fit it into the Directive?
  (Baroness Young) I am not wholly briefed on this one. Certainly our view would be that an environmental assessment study of the fish farming methodology is vital if you bear in mind what happened as a result of intensive fish farming in Scottish estuaries. That will be an issue we with our fisheries regulation hat on would want to take account of.
  (Dr Skinner) Any activity, new or historic, will have to be managed for the regulations to meet the standards set by the Directive. In a sense that gives a platform which does not exist at the moment in quite the same way, so that new rising industry, not only fish farming, but any other has to conform to a common platform across Europe. I would not see that as being a huge issue and certainly not outside the controlling Framework of the Directive.

  219. If the competition is Norway are they observing the Directive as well?
  (Dr Skinner) There are always these issues. Norway is kind of on the margin of the Directive and says that it follows it but it does not have the obligation to do so.

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