Minister puts the brakes on abstraction reform

Water minister Therese Coffey last week confirmed to the All Party Parliamentary Water Group (APPWG) what THE WATER REPORT reported last month: that abstraction reform is to be shelved.

Coffey (pictured) told the group at a meeting in Portcullis House last week that we “have to be realistic” about the primarily legislative programme over the next few years – i.e. that it is packed – and said she was not “promising any primary legislation in the near future”.

She added that her department would look at what could be done in the short term in the absence of primary legislation, and at alternative ways of progressing the reforms. Coffey said she did “not rule out secondary legislation”.

The announcement drew heavy fire from APPWG chair Angela Smith, who said reform had been promised, and that the department had been listening and gathering evidence on abstraction issues for years. It was also pointed out that secondary legislation would not be capable of delivering the whole reform package.