§ Mr. Andrew Mitchell
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to publish the code of practice on conservation, access and recreation under clause 10 of the Water Bill.
§ Mr. Howard
My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Wales and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food issued the code of practice on conservation, access and recreation under section 10 of the Water Act 1989 on 6 July.328W
The code provides guidance for the new water and sewerage undertakers and for the National Rivers Authority on conservation, access and recreation matters generally, including:protection of landscape and minimisation of damage from water industry operations;conservation of flora, fauna and natural habitats;protection of ancient monuments and of water industry buildings of historical or architectural importance;maintenance and development of policies for opening up areas of high amenity value to rambling and quiet countryside pursuits;maintenance of existing recreational uses of water industry land and water; andensuring that policies for new recreational uses are fair and equitable and provide for as wide a range of interest groups as practicable.
The code follows wide consultation on the draft published in January, which was widely welcomed by conservation bodies and takes account of debate in both Houses during the passage of the Bill. In particular it extends the guidance on recreational provision, and on the protection of historic buildings, ancient monuments and archaeological sites; and offers new guidance on the preservation of public freedom of access.
Taken with the duties under sections 8 and 9 of the Act, it will, I believe, ensure that the new bodies created by the Act will maintain and further extend the achievements of the water authorities in conservation, public access and recreation.