Final report on future of UK water sector

A new report published by the All Party Parliamentary Water Group warns that present water use in the UK is unsustainable and water use, funding, costs and provision can no longer be taken for granted but must be identified as a political priority. It calls on the Government to do more to ensure that consumers are central to the further development of the UK water sector and are fully involved in all its decisions. It advises that communication to consumers should be considerably improved...

Apr 8th, 2008

• Cross-party report says current use of water 'unsustainable'

LONDON, April 1, 2008 -- A new report published by the All Party Parliamentary Water Group warns that present water use in the UK is unsustainable and water use, funding, costs and provision can no longer be taken for granted but must be identified as a political priority. It calls on the Government to do more to ensure that consumers, especially vulnerable customers, are central to the further development of the UK water sector and are fully involved in all its decisions. In addition, it says that any communication to consumers should be considerably improved so that everyone is aware of the scarcity of water and the problems arising from this.

The report The Future of the UK Water Sector considers how the water sector can meet its key challenges around affordability, efficiency, flooding, resource management and the regulatory system and offers solutions and approaches to meet them in a practicable and immediate way. Throughout its report the group proposes solutions and approaches that are based on a collaborative approach and sustainability, with the consumer central to any considerations.

In particular, the report highlights the importance of universal metering, combined with social tariffs, to support vulnerable customers and improve efficiency savings and urges the Government to progress their introduction. To speed up the process of improving water efficiency, the group supports the development of water efficient labelling and a tightening of existing regulations for new housing and existing housing stock.

The group is also concerned about the sector's continued vulnerability to flooding, and therefore calls on the Government to immediately address issues around surface water drainage and to clarify ownership and maintenance responsibilities for sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) and the transfer of private sewers.

The report recommends a radical change to the process by which decisions on investment are made, with recommendations to amend the current five year Price Review, with a longer term focus on capital expenditure. The group has also found that changes are needed to encourage further innovation in the sector. In particular, more should be done to incentivise innovation and the group recommends adopting a similar approach as used in the energy sector.

Former Water Minister and Chair of the inquiry, Rt Hon Elliot Morley MP said: "We believe that this report is a very timely and relevant contribution to the debate about the future of the UK water sector. It is now crucial to develop a long-term and sustainable strategy for the sector, with consumers at the heart, so that the sector is enabled to meet its challenges head-on.

"Based on the large number of submissions and extensive discussions with all key stakeholders, our report offers a number of constructive and practicable recommendations for change and reform and also describes some approaches and ideas that we believe merit further exploration.

"The inquiry has made it absolutely clear that the UK water sector is faced with immense challenges but we are convinced that the sector can successfully move forward if coherent, collaborative and comprehensive action is taken now."

To access the report, CLICK HERE

The All Party Parliamentary Water Group (APPWG) is a cross-party body of MPs and peers. It is a contributor to the policy debate on water issues by providing a useful platform for developing and maintaining effective relationships between key political influencers and stakeholders.

###

More in Drinking Water