RSPB ‘disappointed’ by water plans

Water companies have not fully explored opportunities for water savings or put forward enough proposals for large scale water facilities over the next five years, wildlife campaigners have claimed.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said companies’ draft Water Resource Management Plans are “disappointing”.

Phil Burston, senior water policy officer at the RSPB, said the charity hoped that the final plans would greatly improve on the drafts which have been submitted to industry regulator Ofwat.

Speaking at a CIWEM and Ofwat conference in London on Wednesday, Mr Burston said: “We are disappointed that there are – in our definition of a large-scale water facility – there are not many in the draft Water Resource Management Plans.

“We don’t think many of the plans have really explored the potential of water savings.”

He added: “What’s disappointing is that some water companies are complaining about having to cut back on water abstractions.

“We think that’s so wrong because a company cannot be truly sustainable if it’s doing something that’s damaging to the environment.”

His comments came after Ofwat announced companies will be expected to help their customers dramatically reduce their water use from 2010 (see related story).

Janet Wright, Water UK’s economic regulation adviser, raised concerns that Ofwat’s drive for efficiency and water saving was making the mistake of using a “one-size fits all” approach to setting prices for the next five years in the PR09 review.

She told the conference: “There is a worry that things will revert to type, in the pursuit of short term cost cutting, and one size fits all.”

Ms Wright added: “Ultimately we need a joined up, mature debate as we go into this last lap. There needs to be clarity about who is setting the policy agenda – is it Government or is it Ofwat?

“All of this is going to be crucial to ensuring the confidence of customers and investors.”

Kate Martin

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