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Lord Carter: The noble Baroness has mentioned the NFU. We have all received a letter from that organisation and a briefing from the CLA. There is also one from the RICS, but I do not believe that any of them have mentioned the directive.
Lord Whitty: The noble Baroness raises a number of points. It is intended that the third consultation will take place over the summer and will include the draft regulations, as I believe I said, and a public response to those. We intend to meet the deadline of transposing that part of the directive by the end of 2003. That is a fairly quick timescale, but I make no commitment that that will be in place while we consider the Bill. It deals with a different aspect and not the primary aspects covered by the Bill.
It is true that the Select Committee said that we should consider that, and we may need to look at the issue of primary legislation, but the point in the report to which I refer is paragraph 71, which states:
In relation to cross-Border river basins, some complex technical problems are involved. The body for England and Wales is already a cross-Border body. Cross-Border matters between England and Scotland involve rather smaller catchment areas than between England and Wales. Detailed discussions are taking place between the English authorities and the Scottish authorities, primarily between the agency and SEPA.
I apologise to the noble Baroness for not picking up the point relating to the application to agricultural projects. That covers a gap in the regulations where it is necessary to transpose the directive. That means that it will apply to those sectors of agriculture that are not already subject to the planning controls or to abstraction controls and covers a gap in the 1987 directive.
On the environmental impact assessment, the test has significant environmental effects. That is the same test as was in the 1987 directive. On our estimation the number of new projects that would be covered would be relatively few. Therefore, most land use that fell under that requirement would already be covered by previous directives. It may help the noble Baroness if I write to her setting out the terms of the earlier regulation in that respect.
Rather than write the speech that the noble Earl will deliver at Masham town hall, I shall write to him about the way in which we see the development of co-ordination on river basin water management. The key
Earl Peel: It is important for the noble Lord to appreciate that in our case there is a great willingness for all interested parties to co-operate in such a scheme. Matters appear to have gone wrong, whether through lack of finance or through direction or whatever, because the project officer has not been appointed by the Environment Agency. Without such a project officer to act as a catalyst the scheme will not work. If we could get that far down the line, I believe that there would be a tremendous willingness among many interested parties to make the scheme work without necessarily calling upon the Environment Agency to produce substantial resources.
Baroness Byford: Before the Minister answers that point, perhaps he could reply to two points that I raised: first, the difference between the directive, including land under a hectare; and, secondly, he said that the directive would not affect many in agriculture at the moment, but trickle irrigation, which I believe many people will use, is not included.
Lord Whitty: I shall have to write to the noble Baroness about the situation on less than one hectare. I am unable to respond to that immediately. On the second point, trickle irrigation is introduced under the Bill and indirectly by some of the transposition. However, if it were to require an EIA (environmental impact assessment) it would need to have a significant environmental effect. Some projects would automatically go through and for others, where there was a query that the environmental impact would be large, we would require the full EIA procedure in the estimate. That would be a limited number of projects of all kinds, including trickle irrigation.
Lord Livsey of Talgarth: Perhaps I could comment on some of the Minister's responses before my noble friend replies. He stated that there were four pieces of legislation. In promoting a Bill it is perfectly normal to state on the face of the Bill that it will amend the Water Resources Act 1991, the Water Industry Act 1991 and the Reservoirs Act 1975. The noble Baroness, Lady Miller, was trying to bring a piece of European legislation, the Water Framework Directive, within the ambit of the Bill. That is straightforward; it is a one-off. I point out to the Minister that the amendment refers to the England and Wales Directive 2000/60 EC. I have that document which states clearly that this is the directive of 23rd October 2000. It establishes a framework for community action in the area of water policy. Why will the consultation on that directive not be completed until the end of 2003?
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: Will the Minister be more specific on that point? He says that we have engaged a lot of people, but what is a lot of people in the terms of something as wide as the directive?
Lord Whitty: I have absolutely no idea. We write to a lot of organisationsprobably hundredsin the course of consultation, as Members of the Committee know. I have no way of telling how many people they then engage in discussion. I would assume that those who respond have themselves engaged with many of their members and those whom they claim to represent. However, I am afraid that there is no way for me to give a definitive answer.
We have engaged in a three-stage consultation on the directive, as we would with any detailed legislation. The directive itself gives us three years to transpose it. The timescale towards its complete implementation takes us in some respects as far as 2015. That is why I referred to 2015 earlier, which the noble Earl criticised. We are at the beginning of a long-term process in which, as Members of the Committee have said, we have to engage and inform people, and to bring them together to deliver the intentions of the directive and the Bill.
I am clearly unconvinced, however, that one way to do that is to spend an awful lot of time trying to produce one consolidated piece of legislation to reflect all the different aspects, many of which are already in place and with which people are already reasonably familiar.
The Duke of Montrose: I have a note that states that the programmes of measures for water-basin districts must be operational under Article 11(7) by 22nd December 2012. Will the Minister help me with that?
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I thank all Members of the Committee who have spoken to the amendment. Each one, at least on our side, has given an interesting picture as to why we feel that it is necessary. The Water Framework Directive is all-embracing. The noble Earl, Lord Peel, and the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, outlined very well why it will affect people, not only in land management terms. It will affect them socially, through their pockets in terms of the bills that they pay, and in many other ways with which I do not think the Government have yet been fully seized.
One point that has been made again and again is that of costs and benefits, and how they will vary in terms of transposition. The Minister says that he has consulted a lot of people, and I suggest that consultation begins with Parliament, with democratic consultation. For that reason, I am particularly disappointed that the Government continue to resist having the Water Framework Directive in the Bill.
I must declare an interest at this stage, because my husband chairs a voluntary committee in Somerset that is trying to bring together land and water managers, the Environment Agency, the voluntary sector and others to conduct a pilot into the management mentioned by the noble Earl. The evidence from the Select Committee gives the Government's official terms, stating at question 22 that they have made only a belated decision to conduct one pilot in the Ribble valley. I do not call that broad consultation. Until one has had some pilots and people can see how they are working on the ground, they cannot understand what the idea is about. It is an exciting opportunity, but very complicated to put into practice.
I certainly bow to the knowledge of the noble Lord, Lord Carter, which is far superior to mine as to whether my amendment achieves the purposes that I wish. If it does not in his judgment, I will certainly look at it again.
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