Lords debate plan to combat an uncertain future for water resources

04 December 2012

Peers including the President of Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) and a former Environment Minister will take part in a debate on EU and UK responses to future management of precious water resources on Wednesday 5 December.

The debate follows the recent publication of a new EU Water Policy Blueprint and the publication in May of a report, ‘An indispensable Resource: EU Freshwater Policy’, by the Lords EU Sub Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy.

In the report, the Committee warned that urgent action is required to safeguard water quality and availability in the UK and many areas of Europe which are already suffering from the effects of a significant lack of rain. It also called for the Government to bring forward the deadline for reforming the water abstraction regime, outlined in its Water White Paper.

The Commission’s recent Blueprint was critical of the UK’s failure to price water effectively and its failure to come up with an effective strategy for agriculture and water

Chair of the Committee, Lord Carter of Coles (Labour), who will open the debate, said:

“In the wake of so much flooding in the UK, it seems bizarre to be talking about water scarcity.  However, it is an increasingly urgent issue because, having taken our freshwater resources for granted for so long, we must start looking at ways in which we can protect the quality and availability of them in the face of challenges such as climate change and population growth.

“The Government has important answers to give us, in response to the European Commission’s criticism of water pricing in this country and its failure to come up with a workable strategy for agriculture and water. This surely shows that we cannot wait 15 years, as the Government proposes, to reform the water abstraction regime when it is clear that over-abstraction is already doing ecological damage to more than one in 10 of our rivers – whether this will incur extra cost to the consumer or not.

“And if we are to ask people to pay more for fresh drinking water in challenging economic times, we must ensure that we are crystal clear about what they are paying extra for. I look forward to hearing my colleagues’ thoughts on these incredibly important and pressing issues.”

Other Members scheduled to speak include:

Lord Grantchester (Labour), Lord Giddens (Labour) and Lord Cameron of Dillington (Crossbench) are also expected to take part in the debate.

Lord de Mauley (Conservative), will respond on behalf of the Government. 

The debate, expected to start at around 5.30pm, is an opportunity for members of the Committee and the House to discuss recommendations made in the report, as well as recent developments in this area. 

The debate is open to media and the public. Please allow time for security screening.

The debate will also be broadcast live on Parliament TV.

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