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Public sewer network - man in a tunnel

Out of Sight – Not Out of Mind: Ofwat and the Public Sewer Network in England and Wales

“While incidents of sewer flooding in properties are relatively rare, few could deny that it is highly distressing. This must be especially so for those who suffer repeat incidents. And the harm to the environment should not be dismissed. That is why I have made these recommendations to encourage the work that is already being done to reduce the risks of sewer flooding.”

Published:
16 Jan 2004
Report cover showing herd of cows

Identifying and Tracking Livestock in England

“Information on the movement of animals around the country is of vital importance in the fight to prevent the spread of animal disease, all the more so when there is a serious outbreak. It is also vital to consumers confidence in the food that they eat. The animal identification and tracking systems in place at present have helped to protect public health but both systems are in need of improvement.

“For both of its current systems and in the implementation of its new Livestock Identification and Tracing Programme, Defra should work with the livestock industry to improve levels of data accuracy and encourage the use of online methods of communicating information.”

Published:
12 Nov 2003
Report cover showing Colorado Beetle larvae eating potato leaves

Protecting England and Wales from plant pests and diseases

“The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has a key role to play in maintaining the high international reputation for plant health possessed by England and Wales. But increasing trade and travel, new farming practices and climate change increase the risk of new plant pests and diseases being introduced and spreading here. The Department should now take steps to improve its plant health inspection regime and research and how it works with others, to keep new and emerging threats at bay.”

Published:
23 Oct 2003
Report cover showing red and blue houses

Warm Front: Helping to Combat Fuel Poverty

“The Warm Front Scheme makes a difference to the warmth and fuel bills of so many people.

“However, more could be done to help those households most in need by reducing expenditure on measures which have limited impact on fuel costs and on homes which are already energy efficient. And funds should be redirected to better assist, for example, those in ‘hard to treat’ homes such as those not connected to mains gas or without cavity walls.”

Published:
25 Jun 2003
Report cover showing a fish catch

Fisheries Enforcement in England

“The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has improved the effectiveness of enforcement: for example, by requiring larger vessels to land at designated ports to make it easier to target inspections. The low chance of prosecution and the potentially high gains, however, may encourage illegal catches and landing of fish, undermining conservation policies.

“Continuing threats to fish stocks highlight the need for effective enforcement methods, as recognised by the recent reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy agreed by European Union Ministers which seek to tighten controls in all member states.”

Published:
3 Apr 2003
Report cover showing harvested leeks

Reaping the Rewards of Agricultural Research

“The Department and its contractors have sought to transfer knowledge and disseminate results of agricultural research funded by the public sector. However, commercial exploitation has historically been limited and royalties have been low. The deals to commercialise the nuclear transfer technology are the exception.

“Each new venture requires lessons to be learned and shared in the handling of commercialisation. However, the leadership and personal commitment shown in taking forward those cases where intellectual property has been exploited is to be commended.”

Published:
23 Jan 2003
Report cover showing a waste tip

Environment Agency: Protecting the Public from Waste

“I welcome the progress made by the Environment Agency in creating a single organisation which regulates waste consistently and professionally. The Agency carries out a large number of inspections of waste sites however, and needs to concentrate more effectively on areas of real risk. The Agency could be more efficient and effective by better targeting its efforts on more comprehensive and in-depth inspections, even if this means doing fewer inspections in total. Rogue operators must also be left in no doubt that enforcement action against them will be swift.”

Published:
18 Dec 2002
Report cover showing a farm with possible Foot and mouth disease

The 2001 Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease

“This outbreak had a devastating effect on the rural economy and parts of the tourist industry. We must acknowledge that it was of an unprecedented nature and magnitude. In the light of what happened, urgent action is needed to produce contingency plans which would be more sensitive to outbreaks of different scales and thus be better suited to dealing with a future crisis on this scale. Moreover, further research must be carried out into effective measures for tackling foot and mouth. And the means for ensuring minimum standards of cost and financial control in crisis conditions must be established.

“There are lessons to be learned for the whole of government from the foot and mouth crisis. Departments need to be aware of the major threats in their areas of business and to have contingency plans in place which conform with best practice on risk management.”

Published:
21 Jun 2002
Report cover showing a polluted beach

Dealing with pollution from ships

“The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has in recent years strengthened the UK’s ability to deal with marine pollution incidents. The Agency does, however, need to satisfy itself that ports, harbours and coastal local authorities remain capable of protecting the environment from marine pollution, and ensure that it has the ability to recover its costs, prosecute offenders and deter others from polluting.”

Published:
12 Jun 2002