Water policy ‘outdated’ as climate changes
Britain's water policy urgently needs updating to adapt the country to a changing climate, environment minister Ian Pearson has said.
Launching a debate on the revised National Water Strategy in London this week, the minister said the UK’s current water policy, last updated five years ago, is now “tired and outdated.”
“Our previous assumptions about an old wet Britain need to change,” he said. The new Water Strategy, to be published later this year, will go beyond simply “predicting and providing” and factor in everything from greenhouse gas emissions from water treatment to water efficiency.
“We are moving to a new dry Britain where we need to be smarter and more flexible about our water use. I believe our preconceptions, and our policies, need to change. The National Strategy for Water will be the space for that change, setting a vision for 2030,” he said.
Water availability per person in England and Wales is already below that of most Mediterranean countries, and in South East England it is less than in Syria or Sudan, he said.
“With the wettest autumn and winter since 1914, the threat of water shortages this summer looks unlikely. But this April average temperatures in the UK look likely to be at record highs, so there is no room for complacency.
“As demographic changes and the impacts of climate change increasingly begin to be felt, the situation could become even more serious.
Climate change will be at the heart of the new National Water Strategy, the minister said. “We don’t have a choice between climate change mitigation and adaptation, we must do both. We must also do both in a way that helps achieve our environmental water quality objectives, safeguards affordability, and fosters an innovative and competitive water industry.”
Further details of the revised National Water Strategy, now being developed in consultation with key industry stakeholders, can be found here.
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