What you must do before preparing a drought plan if you’re a water company based entirely or mainly in England.
Before you write your final drought plan you must write and publish a draft drought plan.
Hold preliminary discussions
Before writing your draft plan, you must carry out preliminary discussions with:
- the Environment Agency and the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh ministers if your plan will also affect sites in Wales
- any licensed water supplier that supplies water to premises in your area through your supply system
If your plan is likely to affect a designated conservation site then you must also consult with Natural England or Natural Resources Wales for sites in Wales at the earliest opportunity. You should also consider if your plan is likely to affect any local wildlife sites that have been designated by the local authority and consult with the managers of these sites.
Designated sites include:
- special areas of conservation
- special protection areas
- Ramsar sites
- sites of special scientific interest
- national nature reserves
- local nature reserves
- marine conservation zones
For more help locating designated areas see ‘Find protected areas of countryside’.
You should also carry out preliminary discussions with other consultees, for example:
- any water supplier affected by your supply system
- any water companies you have bulk supply or shared resource agreements with
- customer challenge groups
- any other groups or organisations that your drought plan is likely to affect (for example power plant operators or the Canal & River Trust)
What to discuss
In your preliminary discussion you should discuss:
- what you want to include in your new plan
- what you intend to do differently from your existing drought plan
- previous recommendations from statutory consultees (such as the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales)
- any advice you’ve had from the government
- lessons you’ve learned from recent experiences of drought
You must start these discussions as early as possible. You’ll need more time if you’re planning large-scale changes. By starting these discussions early you may reduce the need for changes later in the process. There’s no limit to how far in advance you can contact the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales.
Write a draft drought plan
Your draft plan should use the feedback from the preliminary discussions and be written in the same way as a final plan. You must also follow any statutory directions you receive from the Secretary of State about the content of the draft plan.
Send your draft drought plan
You must send your draft plan to the Secretary of State and if appropriate the Welsh ministers before you publish it for consultation.
When you send your draft plan to the Secretary of State you should:
- submit a statement from your security manager certifying that the plan has been reviewed and does not contain any information that would compromise national security or is commercially confidential
- highlight any information that you propose to redact or edit out in the published version, so that the Secretary of State or Welsh ministers can confirm whether it is to be removed on grounds of national security
If you think a draft plan shouldn’t be published because it contains sensitive information you must tell the Secretary of State as soon as possible.
Publish and distribute your draft drought plan
The Secretary of State will tell you when to publish your draft plan for consultation. You must make it available on your company website and in paper form at one of your main offices.
You must send copies of the draft plan to your statutory consultees and all other organisations involved in the preliminary discussions.
You must also publish a statement with the draft plan that:
- specifies whether you’ve left out any commercially confidential information
- describes the process for providing comments (also known as representations) on the draft plan to the Secretary of State
- states when any comments must be received by and where they should be sent
Carry out a public consultation
You must consult on your draft plan. You must produce a statement of response within 15 weeks of the date of publication for consultation unless specified differently in a statutory direction from the Secretary of State.
You need to decide how long your consultation will be open to receive comments and how long you’ll take to respond to them.
Publish a statement of response
You must publish a statement of response within 15 weeks after completing the public consultation unless specified differently in a statutory direction from the Secretary of State. You must write a final plan which includes any changes made as a result of the comments you’ve received.
Your statement of response must make it clear what has changed as a result of the consultation. It should:
- show that you’ve considered the comments you’ve received
- clearly set out any changes you’ve made to the draft drought plan and your reasons for making them
- say if you haven’t made changes as a result of comments
You should decide whether the statement of response alone allows people to understand the changes you’ve made between your draft plan and final plan. If it doesn’t you may need to publish a revised plan alongside it with changes highlighted.
You must publish the statement of response on your website and tell anyone who’s made comments that you’ve published it.