Memorandum submitted by City of London Corporation (FW 30)

 

Concerning Schedule 4 of the Bill - Reservoirs

 

The City of London Corporation owns and maintains a number of open spaces within twenty-five miles of the City of London. These are funded from the City's own resources at no cost to the tax or ratepayer. These historic open spaces include Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath both of which are the site of a number of ponds which are in fact "reservoirs". Eight of these are sufficiently large to already be subject to regulation under the current regime and a further thirteen are likely to need to be registered depending on the volume of water used as a trigger point for review and the approach determined on for a chain, or cascade, of reservoirs.

 

The City's main concern is that the regime should be truly risk based and proportionate and not result in significant and unnecessary additional bureaucracy and expense. As the detail of the regime is to be established by regulation it will be important to ensure that a detailed impact assessment is undertaken as part of the consultation on the draft regulations. The directly incurred costs of complying with the new regime for high risk reservoirs will be only one part of the additional expense imposed on reservoir owners by the Bill. Paragraph 37 of Schedule 4 envisages that the costs of Category 1 responders may be transferred to the owner as well as those of the Environment Agency under Paragraph 39.

 

Of relevance to the likely expense of the regime for owners is the proposed change in criminal liability (paragraph 35). The Bill would move from the current position where an actionable failure has to result from "the wilful default of the undertaker" to one where criminal liability results from a failure. This major change for those managing reservoirs is likely to result in additional expense.

 

Finally, given the onerous nature of the regime proposed it should perhaps be possible for a review under paragraph 7 2D to be instigated by an owner and not just the Environment Agency.

City Remembrancer's Office

 

December 2009