Water firms commit to protect the environment

Nine of the UK's water companies have, along with 20 NGOs, joined together to create a set of "shared principles" to improve the health of the environment.

The shared principles announced 10 September include: greater collaboration on policy and projects; promoting greater awareness of the links between water management and the natural environment; working together to achieve and build upon water framework directive obligations; sharing key data sets; and joint efforts to enhance and improve the resilience of water-based ecosystems.

The organisations involved in the pledge intend for the shared principles to deliver “more effective joint working” on environmental and wildlife issues, including more on the ground projects.

The principles coincide with the submission of the water companies’ PR19 business plans, which were handed to Ofwat on 3 September.

The companies, which are part of a coalition of environmental, water efficiency, fisheries and angling organisations called Blueprint for Water, are already working together on many projects across England.

These cover a huge range of environmental issues – from tackling pollution by “unflushables” like babywipes, to natural water filtering, to working with farmers on more environmentally-friendly agricultural techniques.

Commenting on the principles, Northumbrian Water chief executive Heidi Mottram, said: “Boosting the health of the UK’s waters is vital to both the environment and water companies. With billions of pounds invested every year by water companies in improving our water systems for our customers and the natural world, we are working hard to improve our rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and seas.

“We want to take this further, in partnership with environmental groups, working closely with nature experts on the ground, and to influence change behind the scenes. Together we can push for changes to help improve outcomes for the environment and deliver a more sustainable and resilient water sector.”

Steve Robertson, Thames Water chief executive, said: “Our primary role, to provide resilient water and waste services to customers across London and the Thames Valley, touches the environment on multiple levels every single day. When planning our investment it’s hugely important to work closely with environmental groups to limit the impact we have and ensure we sustain a thriving environment for future generations.”

Severn Trent head of environment Malcolm Horne, said: “It is important to us that we both protect the natural resources in our region and enable our customers and communities to enjoy the green spaces and landscapes where they live.

“Working closely with councils, regulators, trusts, volunteer groups, charities and specialist groups to get the most from our combined expertise and resource has proven to be the best way to do this. Whether restoring huge peat bogs, helping farmers to use fewer pesticides, improving habitat for wildlife or cleaning up rivers – there’s something for all our customers to enjoy.”

Lois Vallely

This article first appeared on edie sister title’s website, Utility Week

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