Call for WICS chairman to step down

Environmental campaigners say the chairman of the Water Industry for Scotland should reconsider his role - after it emerged he is an adviser to a group which denies the effects of climate change.

Sir Ian Byatt, a former director general of Ofwat, sits on the academic advisory panel of the Global Warming Policy Foundation – a group set up in 2009 by former Chancellor Sir Nigel Lawson.

The stated aim of the Foundation is to question “the economic and other implications” of global warming policies – saying the scientific debate is “distorted by prejudice and exaggeration.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said Sir Ian’s membership of the lobbying group was “entirely incompatible with his job as Chairman of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland.

“We need a watchdog which knows how important it is that the water industry keeps bills down, manages maintenance and tackles emissions at the same time.”

A spokesman for WICS said: “This is a private matter for Sir Ian.”

However, Duncan McLaren, Friends of the Earth Scotland chief executive, said: “Climate change should be at the top of the agenda of the Scottish water industry – the risks range from more serious floods overwhelming sewage treatment capacity to shortages of water for large industrial and agricultural users. Sir Ian Byatt should be ensuring the industry is properly prepared, not adding his voice to an ill-informed chorus of self-interested climate sceptics.”

In its Delivery Plan for 2010-2015, published in March, Scottish Water states that in support of the requirements of the Climate Change (Scotland) 2009 Act, it will “reduce carbon emissions by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.”

The publically owned utility says it will “seek to understand both the impact of climate change on the delivery of its core functions and its contribution to Scotland’s carbon emissions.”

Dave Watson of Unison said: “Scottish Water is the biggest user of electricity in Scotland. The Scottish Government has a clear strategy for climate change and it seems bizarre that a leading environmental regulator should be a climate change denier.”

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