Two water Bills for Scotland

Two water Bills are to be introduced in the Scottish Parliament over the next few months to restructure the water industry and modernise regulation of the water environment.

The Water Industry Bill, to be introduced shortly, will merge the three existing water and sewerage authorities into a single body, Scottish Water, as announced by the Executive in March (ENDS Report 315, pp 51-52 ). Scotland's drinking water quality regulator will also be placed on a statutory footing.

The creation of Scottish Water is intended to facilitate efficiency savings and assist the publicly owned water industry to compete with new entrants who have already begun to erode its business customer base and may want to supply households as the sector is opened to competition.

Other reforms related to the restructuring of the industry and licensing arrangements for new entrants will be left to the Water Environment and Water Services Bill, to be introduced next spring.

The latter Bill will also implement the EU water framework Directive. An initial consultation on the Executive's plans was launched in July (ENDS Report 318, pp 40-41 ). A two-tier system of discharge controls, along with new controls over diffuse pollution, engineering operations and water abstraction, are in the pipeline.

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