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Baroness O'Cathain: Are we dealing here with yet more costs imposed on water companies for protecting the environment surrounding reservoirs and other water resources? Is this a matter of ensuring that fences are kept in place and of allowing general access to the public? Would they be held responsible for children drowning in the water? As the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, said, some water companies make great recreational use of their water facilities in terms of allowing not only dinghies but windsurfers to skim along the surface.

The noble Baroness will be pleased to know, as will the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, that a water company of which I have knowledge is putting in place wildlife areas, wild flowers, wetlands and so on as recreational add-ons to reservoirs. However, I worry about such a provision being on the face of the

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Bill. There are health and safety implications and rules and regulations involved. The next thing will be hot-dog stands. If such a provision is put on the face of the Bill, I wonder whether that will lead to more and more cost and more and more destruction of the countryside.

Baroness Young of Old Scone: The definition of "water resources" becomes more and more quaint as the Bill progresses. I never thought that water resources management plans would contain provisions for hot dog stalls, but anything is possible.

Recreation around open water bodies is extremely important but many open water bodies are important also for other purposes, particularly for the conservation of wildlife. Rutland Water—in Rutland, would you believe—is an internationally protected wildlife site of the highest importance to this country. It is also an area where a variety of recreations take place.

The amendment does not encapsulate the balance that needs to be achieved between recreation and conservation. It gives undue prominence to one use of an open water body without taking account of the many other uses that are needed to achieve balance. It would be preferable to leave these issues to the more general provision of "such other matters as the Secretary of State may specify".

Lord Howie of Troon: I draw attention to the important role played by the quarrying industry in this regard, especially through the extraction of sand and gravel. As my noble friend knows, the quarrying industry provides prizes and so on for projects which are particularly useful. It would be a pity if other parts of the Bill so debilitated the quarrying industry that it would be unable to carry out this useful work.

Baroness Young of Old Scone: I have had this argument with the quarrying industry on many occasions. I commend the industry for the after use to which it puts the large holes it creates, but that does not necessarily mean that it should create large holes simply for the purposes of after use.

Lord Howie of Troon: Does my noble friend wish me to reply to that?

Baroness Young of Old Scone: No.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: This is yet another example of the inventiveness of my noble friend Lord Howie of Troon in raising an issue which is dear to his heart on any item of business before your Lordships' House. I note his point about the quarrying industry's contribution to recreational facilities. I note also the comments of my noble friend Lady Young in regard to conflicts of interest between not only water authorities and the public but also between different interest groups and different sectors of the public.

We appreciate the motives behind the amendment. We are keen to encourage water undertakers to provide opportunities for water-based recreation but we believe that their existing recreational duties under

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Section 3 of the Water Industry Act 1991 are sufficient for this purpose. Most water undertakers provide access to land and water in their control. Statutory guidance issued by the Government three years ago gives an extremely clear steer on how they should approach their recreational and conservation duties under the Water Industry Act.

Section 3 of the Act places various conservation, access and recreation duties on water undertakers. These include a duty to exercise their statutory functions, so far as is reasonably practicable, in such a way as to make water or land associated with water within their control available to the public for recreational purposes.

A statutory code of practice issued by the Secretary of State under Section 5 of the Act requires undertakers to publish annual reports on how they have carried out their conservation, access and recreation duties and to make available to the public, on request, relevant land use and management plans.

The noble Baroness, Lady Miller, referred to water resource plans. These plans relate to how companies plan their water resources for public supply, not to the issue of access to water.

I hope that I have covered the points raised. We share the aims and objectives of the noble Baroness. My right honourable friend the Minister for Rural Affairs and Urban Quality of Life has asked the Countryside Agency to pilot projects for giving more access to canoeists. We have revised planning policy guidance on sport and recreation to emphasise the importance of water sports, and the DCMS game-plan strategy for sport and recreation will consider the issues of water sports and access to water.

I have tried to cover the points raised. I am not quite sure where the competencies lie in this field between here and the other side of Hadrian's Wall. If I discover that it is an area for which we are responsible south of Hadrian's Wall I shall write to the noble Duke. I fear that he will receive a similar answer to the one given to the noble Lord, Lord Livsey—that is, that he must direct his requests elsewhere.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I thank all noble Lords who have spoken. Their contributions have been very helpful. I particularly thank the Minister for her detailed reply. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth moved Amendment No. 171A:

    Page 73, line 12, at end insert—

"(e) the environmental implications of the supply of the quantities of water required to meet those obligations."

The noble Lord said: I am concerned that there should be provision in the water plan for the flow of water into and out of areas in order to sustain the environment. There can often be too little or too much water available at times of drought or excessive rainfall

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and it would be sensible to cater for the environmental implications of the quantities of water needed to meet the obligations in the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: The water resources management plans currently produced by the water undertakers include information on the environmental impacts of their obligations to meet their duties with respect to water supply. This includes the wider environmental impacts of any changes contained in the plan

When water resources plans are put onto a statutory basis the same information will be required. The direction-making power will be used to ensure that this is the case. Section 3 of the Water Industry Act already ensures that nature conservation obligations are taken into account by the undertakers in the discharge of their functions. Therefore the objective of the noble Lord's amendment is already covered.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I thank the Minister for that reply. I am satisfied that the existing legislation contains sufficient powers to meet my concerns. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 171AA:

    Page 73, line 41, at end insert "; and

(e) any county council or metropolitan authority which has jurisdiction in all or part of the undertaker's area"

The noble Lord said: The amendment is designed to probe which bodies, in addition to those listed in the Bill, the water undertakers should consult before they prepare their resources management plans.

I was delighted to see the Environment Agency at the top of the list because it clearly has a part to play. We learnt earlier that the Environment Agency has responsibility for preparing a national water management plan and I assume that it has produced such a plan. I look forward to the Minister telling me that it has been prepared under the environment Acts or whatever, otherwise there will be a lacuna.

The authority is of course included on the list but I am puzzled by the inclusion of the "Secretary of State". I assume that that refers to the Secretary of State in charge of the parent department—DEFRA. But the person who will have the most influence on future water demand in this country is not the Secretary of State but the Deputy Prime Minister. So I have to ask another silly question: is the Deputy Prime Minister a Secretary of State for the purposes of the Bill?

Lord Whitty: Yes.

3.15 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith: That is reassuring. But once we are into that area we are concerned with housing demand and deep strategic planning. The local water resources management plans will have to take that deep strategic planning into account and we are

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concerned that the list contained in the Bill is not sufficiently wide. The Environment Agency will largely cover the subject but we believe that the county councils and metropolitan authorities should be added to the list. Given the Bill that is presently making its way through the building, perhaps we should add regional authorities to the list. We have tabled the amendment to probe whether the list of consultees goes wide enough. I beg to move.

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