Water Reform Northern Ireland: Order laid in Parliament

Draft Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 (316 pages, PDF) to implement the reform of water services in Northern Ireland, including the transfer of Water Service Northern Ireland's functions to a State owned company, and the extension of Ofreg's functions to water regulation. Ofreg's formal title is to become the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation. Explanatory notes (40 pages, PDF) are available. (Northern Ireland primary legislation is by Order of the Queen in Council, approved by the Westminster Parliament under the Northern Ireland Act 2000, when devolution is suspended.)

The proposals mirror the pre-2003 Ofwat regime, with competition law enforcement powers for Ofreg, and disputes over pricing or licence conditions to be resolved by the Competition Commission in London. There does not appear to be any provision for, or prohibition of, common carriage and second-tier supply.

Privatisation of the Water Service Northern Ireland is explicitly envisaged by Section 273; it is subject only to approval by "The Assembly" (the Northern Ireland Assembly in its half suspended form — cf. Schedule 1 of the Northern Ireland Act 2006).

For further information or advice please contact Franck Latrémolière.

Filed under Ofreg, Water.

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