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Performance 2007-08




Bournemouth and W Hants






Dee Valley


Dwr Cymru


Essex and Suffolk


Folkestone and Dover


Mid Kent






Severn Trent


South East


South Staffordshire


South West




Sutton and East Surrey


Tendring Hundred




Three Valleys


United Utilities






Industry Total


Water Charges

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the methodology approved for use by water companies to estimate assessed charges for water bills. [245901]

Huw Irranca-Davies: There is no such methodology. Companies are responsible for deciding individual charges. Ofwat, the economic regulator of the water and sewerage sector in England and Wales, approves companies' charges schemes each year and checks that water company charges are consistent with licence conditions.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what means are in place to ensure that Ofwat can regulate and check that water companies carry out the work required of them to allow price increases after the Ofwat Price Review; and what powers Ofwat has to enforce compliance. [246779]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Ofwat provides each water company with a detailed report setting out what the company must deliver for customers over the price review period. These reports act as detailed documents outlining outputs and deliverables which the company must achieve with the price limits set.

Ofwat undertakes annual monitoring of company performance and will take action where companies fail to deliver on the required improvements. Ofwat's powers to impose financial penalties on water and sewerage companies came into effect on 1 April 2005. The powers were introduced in the Water Act 2003.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it his policy that water companies be allowed to spend any additional revenue accrued through water charges following the price review on protection for critical infrastructure from flooding. [246780]

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Huw Irranca-Davies: It is the responsibility of water companies to include proposals in their business plan for protecting critical infrastructure. Ofwat, as the economic regulator, will review companies' proposals and set price limits, getting the best deal for the customer, while ensuring companies can deliver a safe and secure water supply.

Water Charges: EC Law

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the proposed increases in water charges will reflect the work required to be undertaken by water companies to comply with the EU water framework directive. [246784]

Huw Irranca-Davies: As part of the process of the Periodic Review of Water Prices 2009 (PR09) DEFRA has issued a Statement of Obligations which brings together and describes the key statutory obligations that apply to water and sewerage undertakers. This includes the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

Water companies have included some measures to meet the requirements of the WFD in their draft business plans. However, all necessary WFD measures to be delivered by 2015 will not be known until River Basin Management Plans have been consulted on and are finalised in December 2009.

Water companies have to submit their final business plans to Ofwat in April 2009 and as such it is possible that the WFD measures that companies are required to deliver will change. If so, the Environment Agency, DEFRA and Ofwat will work together through the Change Protocol to ensure that the changed requirements of the WFD can be delivered by 2015.

Water Companies

Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure that water companies consider the need for climate change adaptation in their business plans; and if he will make a statement. [244222]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Water companies submitted their draft business plans to Ofwat in August. They will submit final business plans to Ofwat in April 2009.

DEFRA has issued statutory Social and Environmental Guidance to Ofwat. This sets out the key social and environmental policies that the Government expect Ofwat to contribute to in carrying out their role as the independent economic regulator of the water industry. This includes climate change adaptation. A copy is available on the DEFRA website.

Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure that water companies consider in their business plans the objectives of (a) reducing per capita consumption of water and (b) increasing water efficiency; and if he will make a statement. [244223]

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Huw Irranca-Davies: In August 2008, DEFRA issued Social and Environmental Guidance to Ofwat, the economic regulator for the water companies in England and Wales. The guidance sets out key areas of social and environmental policy that the Government expect Ofwat to contribute to, including in relation to reducing water demand and increasing water efficiency. The guidance is one of the means by which the priorities of the Government’s water strategy for England, Future Water, can be delivered. The guidance is available on the DEFRA website at:

Water Companies: Debts

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received on the issue of bad debt on the part of water companies. [246782]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Jane Kennedy), met Water UK on 18 November 2008. A range of issues were discussed, including bad debt in the water industry.

The problem of bad debt is being examined as part of the Walker review of charging for household water and sewerage services. The interim report is expected in spring 2009.

Water Companies: Flood Control

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what powers he intends to give to local authorities to ensure that water companies do all necessary work for which they are responsible as part of flood prevention programmes. [246787]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Local authorities will be key players in future flood risk management, particularly for surface runoff and groundwater flooding, and for managing its interaction with other sources of flooding.

The Pitt review makes it clear that success will depend on greater co-ordination and co-operation between local partners, and the Government look to these partners to work together closely to establish the most effective arrangements depending on local circumstances.

The Government believe that these objectives will be best met if new partnership arrangements are established to bring together county, unitary and district authorities, the Environment Agency (EA), water companies, sewerage undertakers and other bodies including internal drainage boards, working together to secure effective and consistent management of local flood risk in their areas. It is proposed that these partnerships are underpinned by a new duty on all partners to co-operate and share information with local authorities and the EA. We would expect these organisations to work together to decide the best arrangements for delivery on an area by area basis, taking account of their current roles and capacities. Local authorities working together will have specific responsibilities for effective management of local flood risk from surface water runoff, groundwater and ordinary water courses.

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Whales: Japan

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his Japanese counterpart on whaling. [245260]

Huw Irranca-Davies: While I have not yet held any discussions with representatives of the Government of Japan on this matter, the UK has consistently voiced its opposition to Japanese "scientific" whaling, most recently at the meeting of the 'Small Working Group', charged with taking forward discussions on the future of the International Whaling Commission, held in Cambridge from 8-10 December 2008.


Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will instruct the Forestry Commission to conduct a comprehensive survey of wood availability and use in the UK in 2009 in conjunction with the wood processing industry. [246394]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Forestry Commission is already working with the wood processing industry and private sector growers to generate robust estimates of wood availability and use. This ongoing work includes a new inventory of British woodlands, to be undertaken over the next five years, in order to define how much wood is potentially available and how fast it is growing. In addition, data will be collected on both current timber harvesting and deliveries to the wood processing sector.

It will be important to ensure that the final outputs provide a sound evidence base for both policy formulation and also to help to inform future private sector investment. To achieve this, it is essential to have good quality inventory work, which takes time to complete. Nevertheless, the Forestry Commission is planning to publish details of softwood availability and use, which is the area of most immediate interest to the wood processing industry, in 2011.

Communities and Local Government


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to increase the supply of allotments. [246361]

Mr. Iain Wright: Government statute and guidance provides the framework for the supply of allotment at the local level.

The provision of allotments is the responsibility of local authorities. Section 23 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 places a duty on local authorities (except for inner London boroughs) to provide allotments where they perceive a demand for them in their area.

In addition, ‘Planning Policy Guidance 17: Sport, Open Space and recreation’, encourages local authorities to assess the needs of their communities for a range of
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open spaces, (including allotments) and to address deficiencies. It also suggests that authorities should allocate sites within their plans for the provision of new open spaces. PPG 17 advises local authorities to use the information gained from their assessments of needs and opportunities to set locally derived standards for the provision of open space, sports and recreation facilities in their areas.

Community Relations

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which grievances referred to on page 36 of the report The Prevent Strategy: A Guide for Local Partners in England published in June 2008 resonate most at (a) a local level and (b) a regional or national level; and which local authorities are most affected. [245511]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

There is no common hierarchy of grievances at local, regional or national level. And hierarchy is difficult to discern when localised grievances such as socio-economic issues are bundled into a single narrative with national issues about Government policies and international issues such as foreign policy.

As “The Prevent Strategy: A Guide for Local Partners in England” makes clear on page 70

Many people express grievances. But only a tiny minority choose to use them to justify violence, often prompted by radicalisers who exacerbate and selectively exploit grievances to recruit people to their cause. This is why the Prevent strategy aims to address grievances as one of its core elements. Where grievances have substance government should explain its position clearly, setting out what action might already be undertaking. Where concerns arise from misunderstandings or genuine differences of opinion then clarification and openness are equally important. But where there is distortion or fabrication of the Government’s position then we need to say so, firmly.

Research into grievances is ongoing and we are encouraging local authorities, through engagement and research, to gain a better understanding of those grievances which resonate most in their communities.

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what work her Department has undertaken to establish which local authorities in receipt of funding from the Preventing Violent Extremism Pathfinder Fund have robust processes for commissioning and performance managing prevent projects; and how she intends to ensure that those areas which do not have robust processes in place will put them in place. [245514]

Mr. Khan: Government offices work very closely with local authorities in their areas to support them in establishing robust and transparent procedures and in ensuring best practice is shared.

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