Westminster should debate Welsh water ‘because it does not respect England and Wales border’ says Tory MP
A Conservative MP has called for a Westminster debate on the management of Welsh water “because it does not respect the border between England and Wales”.
The responsibility for managing waterways in Wales rests with the Welsh Government and its sponsored body Natural Resources Wales.
However, Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams MP said that the matter should be debated in the House of Commons after flooding following storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin.
He said that the UK Government’s Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rebecca Pow, had already visited his constituency to see the Clywedog reservoir.
“I am unhappy to report to the House that the River Vyrnwy and then the River Severn hit record, historic peaks,” Craig Williams said.
“Will the Leader of the House facilitate a debate on cross-border water policy? Most water does not respect the border between England and Wales, and the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales must work together on flood prevention as well as drought prevention.”
The Leader of the House of Commons Mark Spencer replied that it was “vital that colleagues in the Welsh Assembly co-operate with the Environment Agency and our friends in DEFRA”.
“My honourable Friend is an assiduous campaigner on this matter and I am sure he will find a way to raise it in the House regularly,” he said, adding that he was “right to highlight the necessity of cross-border co-operation”.
Management of Wales’ water has been a contentious political issue, with politicians in Wales arguing that a number of contentious reservoirs have been created in Wales to supply England with drinking water, at the expense of those communities but with little financial gain.
The drowning of Cwm Celyn in the 60’s to create the Tryweryn reservoir gave rise to the political slogan ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’.
But Conservative MPs have been vocal in the last few months on the need to work cross border to manage Wales and England’s waterways.
David Davies, Conservative Monmouth MP, claimed in December that devolved matters overseen by the Senedd were making it harder to find a solution to river pollution.
“Devolution is making matters more complicated, especially when you have a river such as the Wye forming part of the border between England and Wales,” he said.
Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman also said officials’ failure to work together on the River Wye, which runs through Wales and England and forms the boundary between them for many miles, was “deplorable”.
“Part of the problem is the Wye runs across the English-Welsh border,” he said.
“The agencies involved – Natural Resources Wales, Natural England and the Environment Agency – have done a deplorable job so far in their failure to come together with a single all-river action plan.”
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