Page last updated at 18:24 GMT, Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Water Resources (Scotland) Bill debate 1

Infrastructure, Investment and Cities Secretary Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs the value of water is "not solely the economic but also the social and environmental benefit deriving from those resources", during a debate on the Water Resources (Scotland) Bill on 19 December 2012.

Ms Sturgeon said for that reason she would introduce an amendment to address the issue at the second stage of the bill's parliamentary scrutiny.

She went on: "We all appreciate Scotland's water resources are a precious commodity that should be protected and enhanced" and said the bill placed a responsibility on ministers to develop Scotland as a hydro nation.

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee convener Maureen Watt said the committee had agreed to back the general principles of the bill, but wanted to highlight concerns that had arisen during witness sessions.

Ms Watt said the bill highlighted the need to "recognise more fully the value of this resource and learn to make more use of it".

She said a near majority of the committee had felt there was too much emphasis on the economic value of water and its infrastructure, but there was not enough in the bill about environmental and social considerations.

Ms Watt welcomed the commitment from Ms Sturgeon to bring forward an amendment to address this issue at the next stage of the bill's consideration.

Labour MSP Richard Baker said: "We will support the general principles of this bill".

Mr Baker welcomed the definition of Scottish Water's core and non-core services but reflected on: "The laudable intentions behind the legislation but the question is often asked if there is really a need for Scottish Water to have these powers".

Conservative spokesperson for infrastructure Alex Johnstone said there had been a lack of consultation in relation to water abstraction in the build-up to the introduction of the bill.

Mr Johnstone said Scottish Water was a "success story" and it should become a private company, but that notwithstanding, he welcomed the changes proposed in the bill as far as they went.

The bill deals with a number of water related issues including the development of Scotland's water resources, a new framework to govern the abstraction of water over a specified threshold, Scottish Water's functions and its exercise of those functions, protecting "raw water" sources, creating contracts for certain non-domestic water and sewerage services, protecting the public sewerage network from harm and allowing for maintenance of private sewage works, and enabling the making of water shortage orders.

The second part of the debate can be viewed below:

Water Resources (Scotland) Bill debate 2


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