Ofwat has published an analysis of water companies’ unit costs for their capital works. The report shows that costs have reduced by 10-15 per cent since 1994 when price limits were last set. The wide range of costs suggests there is scope for some companies to reduce their costs and catch-up with those of their peers. These reductions will help inform the setting of company efficiency targets for 2000-05. The published report will allow companies to reassess their costs before submission of their business plans to Ofwat in April.

Source: wwt

Welsh Water has rejected Ofwat’s claim that it is below par in terms of operational efficiency. The company was one of three identified by Ofwat in its latest comparative study of UK water companies.

Welsh Water’s spokesman Eurwen Thomas said: “Running a water business in Wales is much more expensive than most other parts of the UK because of our geography and relatively sparse population. Ofwat’s analysis has failed to take this into account.”

The report also said Mid Southern and South East Water ‘would need to make further improvements’, some of which will be achieved by merging the companies to form Mid-Sussex Water, according to Ian Byatt.

Ofwat will release details of the methods used to rank the water companies in terms of relative efficiency later this month.
Source: wwt

The Environment Sub-Committee of the House of Commons Environment, Transport & Regional Affairs Committee took evidence on the operation of the landfill tax until 8 January 1999. The Review will examine the operation of the tax; its effectiveness in influencing choice of disposal options; the environmental benefits resulting from the tax; the uses of revenue raised from the tax; and the consequences of the tax for waste management strategies, particularly those of local authorities.

Source: iem

A new Environment and Energy Helpline (0800 58 57 94) has been launched, replacing the two separate the services run by ETSU. If an enquiry is too specific or technical for the Helpline advisor, he/she will arrange for an appropriate specialist to telephone the caller back within 24 hours. This specialist can give up to two hours of advice over the telephone. For smaller businesses, a half-day site visit can be arranged at the Helpline manager’s discretion.

Source: iem

Following an extensive consultative process involving more than 1,000 organisations, the Environment Agency has published a new Enforcement and Prosecution Policy setting out the way in which it is to implement “firm, effective and consistent regulation”. Since its formation in 1996, the Agency hasd prosecuted over 1,000 organisations and individuals, resulting in over œ3m in fines and 12 imprisonments.

Source: iem

Fully processed ferrous and non-ferrous metals are now legally classified in the UK as raw material, following a High Court judgement which the metals recycling industry has hailed as ‘ground breaking’. The results of Mayer Parry Recycling vs The Environment Agency means ten million tonnes of metals processed annually will be classified as raw material not waste.

Source: iem

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service has changed its range of national accreditation marks. To minimise confusion the marks are a derivation of the former NAMAS and NACB marks, but each mark clearly shows the area of accreditation covered.

Source: iem

The Environment Agency is proposing to increase IPC charges for 1999/2000 by 15%, partly to absorb the cost of some £3m of IPC costs which were being met by the general taxpayer. In the future, the Agency intends to apply a risk-based approach to regulation, which will be reflected in charging schemes once the approach has been tested within the Agency. This approach will offer incentives to environmentally well managed operations as the Agency intends to direct its regulatory effort and the costs of that regulation towards the higher risk operators. (see IEM’s special report – page 14).

Source: iem

The DTI and DETR are consulting on whether to continue the Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme beyond 2000 and if so, in what form. Copies of the consultation paper are available from Andrew Field, DETR, tel: 0171 890 6627.

Source: iem

A new stategy for ‘systematic biology’ research in the UK has been proposed by the UK Systematics Forum in its report, ‘The Web of Life’. The strategy is not just aimed at the science community but also explains to a wider audience the part systematics – which involves naming, description and identification of plants, animals and micro-organisms, as well as fossils, rocks and minerals – plays in our understanding of the natural world.

Source: iem

A public meeting has been held to discuss South West Water’s plans for Falmouth’s first sewage treatment works. The plant will treat effluent from a population of 43,000 in the Falmouth and Penrhyn area. At the moment, the waste is only subjected to basic screening before discharge with the outgoing tide. Environment Agency (EA) area manager Geoff Boyd said: “Our results show this phased cycle is fairly effective, with two out of three local beaches reaching the ‘blue flag’ standard for bathing. However, this project would do a lot to improve water quality in the area.” The new plant will have tertiary treatment, including gravity sand filters and UV disinfection. South West Water’s project manager Andy Dawe said: “Process design will be by Purac, civil engineering design by Pel Frischmann and civil construction by Sir Alfred McAlpine.” Construction is expected to begin in April, finishing in May 2000. Mr Boyd added: “As with all such meetings, there were some positive statements from the public and some of more concern. We will consider these when examining South West’s proposals.”

Source: wwt

The British Chilean Chamber of Commerce has gained sponsorship from the DTI to visit AguaExpo Latinoamericana ’99. The international water and sanitation show will take place in Santiago on 26-29 May . For details (Tel) +44 171 323 3053.

Source: wwt

MID Southern Water’s and South East Water’s licences have been replaced with a single one. From the first of this month, Mid-Sussex Water, an operating subsidiary of South East Water, became the licence holder for the areas previously served by both South East Water and Mid Southern Water. All three companies are owned by SAUR Water Services plc and have the same management control. Saur has agreed to reduce customer’s bills in April 2000 by £580,000, the savings attributable from the move.

Source: wwt

NEW Year’s day marked an end to dumping sewage sludge at sea. Commenting on this Michael Meacher, environment minister, said: “I am pleased that this practice, which helped to earn us our previous reputation as the dirty man of Europe, has now finally ended ……..it is a necessary part of our aim of giving this country an environmentally sustainable water industry.”

Source: wwt

FARMERS in parts of England and Wales are now required to keep formal records of their use of fertilizers and manures as a key part of a new anti-pollution measure. Part of the Action Programme for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, this measure will allow the EA to assess farmers’ compliance with the programme.

Source: wwt

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