Draft Water Bill released
Published: 11 Jul 2012
The draft Water Bill, which includes measures to strengthen the water sector's ability to respond to the challenges of a growing population and less certain water supplies, has been published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It also contains provisions to improve the deal the water sector offers to its customers by offering more choice and driving efficiency and innovation.
Importantly, the draft Bill:
- proposes amendments to the Water Industry Act 1991:
- by extending the current water supply licensing regime and introducing similar provisions for sewerage services,
- so that new entrants will be able to join the market more easily;
- allows for the creation of a single set of regulations covering the existing scope of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2010/675 and new regulations for abstraction licences, flood defence consents and fish pass approvals;
- allows operators to apply for one permit rather than multiple permits.
It also takes forward the legislative changes set out in the White Paper "Reforming the market for business customers", which includes:
- allowing all business and other non-household customers in England to switch their water and sewerage suppliers;
- facilitating the development of a joint retail market for water and sewerage services by reducing burdens for operators that wish to supply services in Scotland and England, and to eligible water supply customers in Wales;
- introducing a more flexible upstream pricing regime, and allowing increased opportunities in the upstream supply sector;
- stimulating wholesale markets in water supply and sewerage services by extending opportunities for new entrants to offer alternative supplies and services to customers and to other new entrants.
Although the draft Bill applies to England and Wales, some aspects could extend to Scotland when the final Bill is published and presented to Parliament for consideration.
For more information, see the: