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Terms of Reference
The UKELA Water Working Party is involved in formulating UKELA's views on government consultation papers, European initiatives and other legal developments relating to water resource protection and management, the marine environment, water pollution issues, flood defence, fisheries, and other topics relevant to the management of the UK’s freshwater and marine environment.
The Working Party's priorities in 2016 include:
- flooding, in particular groundwater flooding;
- abstraction reform;
- experiences, approaches and outcomes in water pollution cases associated with regulatory notices, contamination claims, planning & contaminated land issues.
The Working Party holds its AGM in March, and aims to hold two other meetings each year: in summer (at UKELA's annual conference) and in autumn. Telephone conferencing is available for those who cannot attend the meetings in person.
The Working Party is open to UKELA members with experience of water law. All UKELA members can attend our meetings at which external speakers cover water-related issues and topics of wider environmental interest. The Working Party is run by co-convenors. A number of sub-groups lead on particular topics.
If you would like to join, contact the group's convenors.
The Water Working Party is holding an afternoon seminar on Flooding on Wednesday 18 May. We will shortly be providing further details.
Recent Events and Activities
Onshore oil and gas
On 9 February members of the Climate Change and Energy Working Party attended a special presentation about regulation of onshore oil and gas, given by Mark Ellis-Jones of the Environment Agency. The event, held at King & Wood Mallesons, included a Q&A session on the Environment Agency's draft Guidance, which was the subject of an open consultation. UKELA submitted a formal written response to the consultation in March, available below (under 'Consultation Responses').
The Water Working Party presented a seminar on flooding in September 2014. Topics covered included: riparian and groundwater flooding, contamination, insurance, drainage, flood insurance and the siting and design of new developments to adapt to flooding.The session was chaired by Professor William Howarth (Kent University), and featured Anna Butler (Environmental Consultant, Atkins Environmental), Ned Westaway (Francis Taylor Buildings), Will Upton (6 Pump Court), David Rooke (Director of Flood Resources Management, Environment Agency), Hamish Hall (Joint Head of Water at WSP) and Zelda Bentham (Group Head of Environment & Climate Change, Aviva).
Water Act 2014
Eluned Watson (Pinsent Masons, water working party convenor) spoke about the newly passed Water Act at the group's session at UKELA's annual conference in Edinburgh in June 2014.
Abstraction Reform Consultation
The Working Party has recently responded to Defra's consultation on reforming the water abstraction management system. The group's response is available below.
The government states that the current system does not help abstractors to trade water effectively, nor does it provide an incentive for abstractors to manage water efficiently. Further, the government states that the current process to change most licences that are causing damage to the environment is expensive and time consuming.
The objective of the consultation is thus: "[to] use water in the most efficient way possible and support businesses to manage their risks from future pressures on water resources, whilst protecting the environment. This will help to support economic growth and investment in the future."
Marine Planning System
Following on from the Working Party's seminar at the 2013 UKELA Conference on "Marine Planning – Bringing Clarity to Our Seas?", the group presented a seminar in October 2013 at the London offices of Pinsent Masons entitled “Implementation of the Marine Planning System: Where are we now?” The event featured presentations by Dr Paul Gilliland (Head of Marine Planning, Marine Management Organisation) and Daniel Owen (Barrister, Fenners Chambers).
At that time, England's first two draft marine plans for the east of England had been published. They are the first of eleven marine plans to be delivered for England, being one of the first countries in the world to plan across all marine activities. The consultation responses were being considered by the Marine Management Organisation.
This seminar discussed these developments from an environmental and legal perspective. Dr Paul Gilliland provided some context, such as the benefits of marine planning and an update on implementation around England. Daniel Owen set out a summary of the legal framework for marine planning under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. The event was chaired by Paul Leonard.
Climate Change and Water Scarcity
A meeting on the theme of climate change and water scarcity was held at the UKELA conference in Southampton on 7 July 2012, in partnership with the Climate Change and Energy Working Party. There were three speakers:
- Trevor Daya-Winterbottom, Associate Dean: Research, Faculty of Law, University of Waikato, will talk about water scarcity management issues arising in New Zealand
- David Symons, Director, WSP Environment & Energy will speak on how a changing climate is causing water scarcity/unpredictable precipitation in the UK
- Stephen Marsh-Smith OBE, Executive Director of the Wye & Usk Foundation will talk about the Severn Barrage project