New protocol introduced to safeguard water supply in England and Wales

A new protocol has been introduced by the UK and Welsh Governments to safeguard water resources, supply and quality in England and Wales.

Expected to come into force on 1 April 2018, the new protocol replaces the Secretary of State’s existing powers of intervention on water policy and meets a key commitment made during the passage of the Wales Act 2017.

The new measure allows the intervention to be repealed with a reciprocal agreement between the UK and Welsh Governments.

Wales Secretary of State Alun Cairns said: “The UK Government is today acting on its commitment to deliver a water protocol so that the interests of water consumers in Wales – and those in England – are protected.

“From today onwards, no action or inaction by either the UK or Welsh Governments relating to water resources, water supply or water quality should have serious adverse impacts for consumers on either side of the border.

“This protocol demonstrates how far we have come from the events of 52 years ago, which resulted in the flooding of the Tryweryn Valley. Today’s agreement puts cross-border arrangements for water on a footing fit for the 21st century and underlines what can be achieved when two governments work together for Wales’ future prosperity.

“These are powers which affect the lives of everyone living in Wales and are a major step towards the clearer, stronger and fairer devolution settlement that the UK Government is putting in place for the people of Wales.”

Currently, the Secretary of State holds powers to intervene in relation to water under the Government of Wales Act 2006.

The new reserved powers model of devolution will be put in place by the Wales Act 2017, when it comes into effect on 1 April next year.