As part of last week's Autumn Statement, ministers announced the results of government's water-themed ‘Red Tape Challenge’.
The full details are available on the Defra website, here, but the headlines include proposals to scrap or improve 106 of the 168 water regulations.
A total of 84 will be improved, mainly through simplification, consolidation and improving implementation on the ground; 62 will be kept to maintain important environmental and public protections and 22 obsolete regulations will be removed. Among areas of particular agricultural relevance, the following changes are proposed:
The Water Framework Directive - Government will consult on revised guidance on updating ‘river basin planning’ in 2013 with the aims of clarifying issues such as no deterioration, and issues which can reduce business burdens such as the application of disproportionate cost.
- Silage Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil Regulations - Government will review and consult on the SSAFO Regulations in 2013 and will develop, with the industry, a method to allow greater flexibility in the dates of closed periods.
- Water treatment and supply - The Government will formally consult on the review of the abstraction regime at the end of 2013 and plans to legislate in the following parliament.
Flood and coastal erosion risk management
- Reservoir safety - Amendments to the Reservoirs Act 1975 arising from the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 will improve the clarity of the seven regulations covering reservoirs, support necessary enforcement activity to ensure safety, clarify responsibilities and provide a right of appeal.
The NFU will follow progress closely.