UK government veto on Wales' water powers set to end under new protocol

UK government powers to intervene in the Welsh Assembly’s water functions are poised to end with the introduction of a water protocol for England and Wales.

The protocol, which is being laid before the UK Parliament and National Assembly for Wales today (Thursday 16 November) will lay a path for repeal of Westminster’s intervention powers next year.

The current powers enable the environment secretary to repeal Assembly laws or block the Assembly’s exercise of its devolved responsibilities where the secretary sees a risk of serious detriment to water resources, supply or quality in England. The Welsh government has no such powers.

The protocol says that no action or inaction by either administration should have “any serious adverse impact on either Wales or England.” The Welsh Assembly said the protocol “reaffirms the close working between the Welsh and UK governments on essential matters of water resources, water supply and water quality.” Cabinet secretary for energy, planning and rural affairs, Lesley Griffiths said: “I am pleased with the constructive and positive way in which both administrations have approached the drafting and implementation of an agreement which, importantly, means water consumers on both sides of the border are safeguarded”.