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ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY AGREES TO DROUGHT ORDER

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Environment secretary Margaret Beckett has today agreed to make a ...
Environment secretary Margaret Beckett has today agreed to make a

drought order to allow United Utilities to pump water from Ullswater

lake to Haweswater reservoir to assist water storage in South

Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

The order will allow United Utilities to place a weir across the lake

for water levels to rise enabling them to pump water to the reservoir

which will ease water storage conditions should the winter be dry and

in turn limit the requirement for more draconian measures next

summer.

The wier will potentially affect The River Eden and the salmon

ascending the river to spawn in December, the redds and the

downstream movement of salmon smolts in March. The secretary of state

asked the Environment Agency to undertake an assessment of the impact

under the requirements of the Habitats Regulations. This led to a

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) being agreed by the agency and the

company in close consultation with English Nature. Both the agency

and English Nature are satisfied that, with the MoU in place and its

monitoring provisions, a condition of the drought order, there will

be no significant environmental impacts.

Following a public hearing at the beginning of December into United

Utilities application for a drought order, a report was submitted to

the secretary of state highlighting:

- that there has been an exceptional shortage of rain and that a

serious deficiency of supplies of water is threatened

- that the proposed drought order and associated drought permits (the

latter being dealt with by the Environment Agency) are a sensitive

and proportionate response to the situation

- that the safeguarding measures involved would provide benefits not

only to the water resource, but to those habitats and environments

affected

- that with the safeguards in place the assessments carried out by

the agency under the Habitats Regulations and accepted by English

Nature are correct in their conclusion that the impacts on

sensitive sites would not be significant

- that the actions proposed should reduce materially the risk of more

stringent drought measures in 2004

Signing the order Mrs Beckett said:

'Despite the recent extensive wet weather the drought persists. A few

days of heavy rain makes little difference to long-term resources,

even if the rain is intense. So it is important that everyone from

the companies to the consumer plays their part in conserving our

water supplies.'

NOTES

1. Drought orders are made under sections 73-74 of the Water

Resources Act 1991 (as amended).

2. The drought order will allow the company to construct and maintain

a temporary weir or weirs across the River Eamont, near Pooley

Bridge, at a mean height of not more than 145.12 metres above

ordnance datum (Liverpool); and to substitute for the normal

specified rates of flow required to permit abstraction (232 mega

litres per day in December, 386 mega litres in January and February

per day and 350 mega litres per day in March), a flow of at least 91

mega litres per day.

3. The weir will include a central rectangular notch with stop-logs

to control the release of the stored water to the River Eamont during

low flow conditions to protect fisheries. At moderate lake outflows

and above, the weir will be drowned and will not control flows to the

river.

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