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Water Act 2003

Sections 63 to 65 Drought

351.Provisions in sections 63 to 65 are devolved to the Assembly.

352. .Section 63: Drought plans.

Water undertakers are required to prepare, maintain and publish drought plans. A drought plan should set out how the undertaker will continue to meet its duties to supply adequate quantities of wholesome water during drought periods with as little recourse as possible to drought orders or drought permits. Drought plans must be revised every three years or if there is a material change in circumstances or the Secretary of State otherwise so directs. Licensees have to provide information required by undertakers to prepare their plans. The procedures for publication and consultation are the same as those for water resources management plans.

353. .Section 64: Drought orders and drought permits: charges.

Current legislation allows a water company to apply to the EA for a drought permit where, by reason of an exceptional shortage of rain, a serious deficiency of water supplies exists. Similar powers enable an application to be made to the Secretary of State/National Assembly for a drought order. A drought order or permit allows a water company to meet that deficiency by allowing it to abstract more water from existing and additional sources. This section enables the Agency to recover from a water company any expenses it incurs in connection with any application by that company for a drought order or permit, including those relating to any local inquiry that is held, and in connection with any such order or permit if it is subsequently issued. This may include, for example, costs of additional environmental monitoring to establish the effects of the permit or order. The section also repeals sections 77(4) and 79A(8) of the WRA to make it clear that sections 125 to 129 do not apply to these charges.

354. .Section 65: Procedure at local inquiries.

Where there has been an exceptional shortage of rain causing a serious deficiency in water supplies then, under present arrangements, any water company or the EA can apply to the Secretary of State for a drought order. The Secretary of State may direct that a public inquiry be held into such an application.

355.The Local Government Act 1972 sets certain rules about the attendance of witnesses and the awarding of costs for inquiries. This section applies those rules in respect of the conduct of inquiries into drought orders.

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