We have no plans to set up an alternative Quality Mark scheme to that run by the British Standards Institute. In principle, we have no objection to the development of alternative Quality Marks, supported by appropriate independent verification, provided that they deliver good quality products appropriate to the intended use and are easily understood by the public.
The consultation on draft River Basin Management Plans is being conducted by the Environment Agency which is the Competent Authority and has responsibility for producing the plans under the Water Framework Directive regulations. The consultation which started on 22 December 2008 will close on 22 June 2009.
An updated national impact assessment for the water framework directive was published in February 2008 and is available at:
Each of the draft River Basin Management Plans is accompanied by a draft impact assessment which includes an analysis which estimates the likely impact of different options on different sectors. All the major sectors are included that are expected to be impacted by the water framework directive measures, such as the water sector and agriculture and land management. It also includes an assessment of the impact on small and medium sized businesses within each River Basin District.
Each of the draft River Basin Management Plans impact assessments includes a sector analysis which estimates the likely impact of different options on different groups. An analysis by individual river management system has not been undertaken but could be achieved by aggregating measures for each water body in each river catchment. It is not possible to undertake this work at this level of detail at present as many water bodies still require further work to determine the reasons for not achieving good status.
DEFRA officials and I work closely with the Environment Agency and meet regularly to discuss a range of issues, including flood protection policy. Most recently, I met Paul Leinster (chief executive) and Lord Smith (chairman) for a bilateral on 11 December.