Industry welcomes proposals to update legislation on water use

DEFRA to close loopholes in 60-year-old law

By Matthew Appleby The garden industry has welcomed a proposal to modernise hosepipe ban legislation. HTA director general David Gwyther said that what DEFRA had proposed to close loopholes in the 1945 legislation was “a sensible approach to the imposition of hosepipe bans on domestic gardens”. The consultation, which follows water firms ending the hosepipe bans that hit 13 million people, recommends a code of practice that could allow concessions on areas such as more efficient watering systems including micro or drip irrigation, or the use of hosepipes at certain times of the day only. Existing hosepipe-ban rules cover only watering gardens and washing cars. DEFRA’s 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 that can be restricted under a drought order. The aim is that the new discretionary use would apply primarily to domestic users, and that drought-order powers extend controls to the commercial and public sectors. Hozelock marketing manager Simon McArdle said the watering and aquatics company was the only garden equipment business to be on the official list of DEFRA consultees. The company, which shed 100 jobs in 2006’s drought, won two awards in the Government’s Waterwise responsible promotion of water-efficient products awards this month for its water-storing gel and aquapod watering system. Hozelock managing director Peter Rush said: “The hosepipe bans made 2006 a very challenging year but with our new award-winning all-weather product line-up and the complete lifting of the hosepipe restrictions, we are very optimistic about 2007.” Scotts managing director Martin Breddy said: “We welcome a more balanced approach to proper water stewardship in gardens. We don’t see this need going away despite the lifting of bans and that’s why brands such as Moisture Control Compost are every bit as relevant this year and every year.” Environment minister Ian Pearson said: “A wet winter has reduced the risk of such measures becoming necessary again. But gardeners feel they have borne the brunt of restrictions over the past two years. We were often asked to explain why a gardener could not water plants while a neighbour could fill a swimming pool by hosepipe. This consultation addresses those concerns.” The consultation closes on 15 June. For details see www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/naturalenvironment.htm .

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