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Water White Paper to make "bold" reforms

The Water White Paper will make “bold” reforms in the water sector, environment minister Richard Benyon said yesterday.

Benyon told the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) annual conference that the document will take advantage of the rare opportunity for reform.

“I can promise you one thing,” he said. “It will be bold.” Benyon said the White Paper will provide “the clearest possible steer about how we should progress in the future”.

“There has been a rather cloudy atmosphere of policy coming from all different directions,” he said

He said it is important that government “grasps” the opportunity to make changes, more than 20 years since water companies were privatised.

But Benyon admitted he was concerned about local authorities’ preparedness to take on Lead Local Flood Authority duties imposed by the Flood and Water Management Act.

“This is a capacity issue,” he said. “We’ve got to build up the capacity for local authorities who have not had that level of flooding yet.

“We’ve got to make them think more long term and understand what we are expecting them to achieve.

“I’ll make sure that I raise this [within government] and that we get a coherent approach to it.”

The White Paper will be published this summer.

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