Investigation into whether 1999 Water Price Review ignored ‘polluter pays’ principle

The 1999 Price Review saw domestic consumer water prices for 2000-2005 reduce by an average of 12%, but now the Environmental Audit Select Committee has announced that it will conduct an inquiry into whether the Review's investment plan is large enough to meet demands for environmental improvements.

When the 1999 Price Review was finalised, many reports argued that

interventions from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Environment

Minister Michael Meacher had succeeded in securing adequate funds for

continued environmental improvements (see related story). But the House of Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee isn’t so sure. It will hold an inquiry into whether both “the process and the outcome” of the Price Review “took account of the polluter pays principle”. Committee members will also seek to answer the following questions:

  • whether the ‘quadripartite’ process – involving the Office of Water

    Services (Ofwat), the Environment Agency, the Department of Environment,

    Transport & the Regions (DETR) and UK water companies – was successful in setting the scope, financing and delivery of the environmental programme for 2000-2005

  • whether water prices adequately match the environmental obligations

    which water companies must meet during the five-year period

  • whether the Environment Agency’s monitoring of water companies’

    activities is adequate

  • whether the Price Review includes enough funds to allow water companies to accommodate new environmental regulations which might arise before 2005

Submissions are requested by the end of May, with oral evidence sessions

planned for June and July. For details contact Environmental Audit Committee.

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