UK water supply chain in 'desperate need of innovation'
Leaders from across the UK and European water sectors have made a series of recommendations for water policy reform in Britain.
Organisations including the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) and the UK Committee on Climate Change have come up with 10 recommendations they urge the Government to apply.
It lays out advice on a variety of water issues including the role of management incentives in guaranteeing water security and the removal of red tape around water metering roll-out.
The report, entitled Sustainable Solutions: Raising the water mark, was compiled by the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum, a coalition of leading UK businesses, government agencies, parliamentarians and organisations working to promote effective sustainability policy in the UK.
To be formally unveiled in Parliament on Monday, the report also calls for changes in the regulation and ownership of dirty water treatment, setting tougher leakage targets, and the removal of barriers to entry to the industry, especially for innovative SMEs.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Westminster Sustainable Business Forum chair MP Barry Sheerman said:
"These recommendations could not be more timely. The UK's water supply chain is in desperate need of innovation and new ideas and this report will hopefully spark precisely the sort of debate we need to identify and drive much needed reforms.
"It is only by bringing together a collection of leaders and experts from across the water sector in this way that we can map a coherent, viable and sustainable water future for the UK."
In December 2011, Defra published its Water for Life White Paper, in which it laid out the Government's vision for a more resilient, sustainable and customer focused water industry.
According to the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum, the draft Water Bill that followed the white paper in July 2012 took forward some of the its ideas but various stakeholders, including the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, have stated that the Government's proposals for metering and abstraction reform lack ambition and are unlikely to provide the necessary changes within an acceptable timescale.
The Westminster Sustainable Business Forum says it is this narrowness of the Government's vision that its publication seeks to rectify, by broadening the current sphere of debate and sharing challenging and inspiring ideas, for improving sustainability in the water sector.
Writing in the report, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, MP Anne McIntosh said:
"This suite of water policy ideas explores some enduring solutions which can enhance nature and benefit our society. These policy recommendations provided by the contributing authors forms a robust message to Government: we need pan-sector policy changes if our water resources are to be truly sustainable into the future."