Hosepipe ban rules to be updated

Posted: Sunday 25th March 2007

Proposals for modernising the hosepipe ban legislation have been published for consultation.

The Government made a commitment last summer to update the 62 year old legislation, when one of the worst droughts in 100 years highlighted the gap between the way water was used in 1945 and the way it is used today. The existing hosepipe ban rules cover only watering gardens and washing cars.

The joint Defra/Welsh Assembly Government consultation outlines proposals for replacing this with a ‘discretionary use’ ban, which would extend the scope to activities such as the filling of domestic swimming pools and using a hosepipe for cleaning patios and drives.

Changes are also proposed to the Drought Direction 1991, which identifies the uses which can be restricted under a drought order.

The aim is that the new discretionary use would apply primarily to domestic consumers, and that drought order powers extend controls to the commercial and public sectors.

Launching the consultation, Environment Minister Ian Pearson said:

“The recent drought in south-east England saw hosepipe bans affecting 13 million people. Whilst a wet winter has reduced the risk of such measures becoming necessary again this year we cannot ignore the fact that the frequency of droughts may increase in future, and we must be ready for that possibility.

“The existing hosepipe ban powers apply only to the watering of private gardens and the washing of private cars. Gardeners no doubt feel that they have borne the brunt of water use restrictions over the last two years. We were often asked to explain why a gardener could not water plants though a neighbour could fill a swimming pool by hosepipe. The consultation we are launching today addresses those concerns.

“I am mindful that it was the combined efforts of everyone in responding to the need to conserve water that got us through one of the most severe droughts of the last 100 years with minimal interruption to daily life. For us to rely on that level of goodwill when we face future droughts it is essential that the legislation is clear and unambiguous. People have a right to expect a common sense approach, and I believe these new proposals provide that.”

The consultation closes on 15 June 2007. Changes to the law governing the existing hosepipe ban powers would then be dependent on finding a suitable opportunity within the Parliamentary timetable to bring the changes into effect.

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