§ Dr. Woodcock
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the National Rivers Authority has any duty to protect public access to water gathering grounds owned by water undertakers.
§ Mr. Heathcoat-Amory
The Water Act 1989 imposes on the water undertakers a duty to have regard to the desirability of preserving public freedom of access to areas of natural beauty and to sites of architectural or historic interest on their lands. This duty also applies to the National Rivers Authority in respect of its own lands. The NRA is also under a duty generally to promote recreational use of inland and coastal waters and associated land.
The code of practice issued by the Government under section 10 of the Water Act gives practical guidance to the National Rivers Authority and the water undertakers on the performance of their environmental and recreational duties.