CIWEM calls for radical change in parallel with water legislation

The water sector needs a rapid pace of change that can be delivered alongside the Water Bill published in draft this week, according to professional body CIWEM.

The body, which represents water and environmental professionals, agreed with the principles of better regulation and wider competition set out in the draft legislation.

However, it urged the government to take ambitious steps on issues not covered by the draft bill, to create a resilient sector.

CIWEM executive director Nick Reeves said he welcomed many of the government’s proposals, but there remained “serious conflicts” in water policy.

“The Committee on Climate Change noted the need to make water more expensive to deter profligate use,” he said. “Yet the focus of the draft Bill is to make water as cheap as possible and to increase shareholder benefit.

“Whilst the government has focussed on the importance of competition to deliver better shareholder and customer value, the challenges are much more stark and require urgent and wide-reaching action.”

Farmers, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction that government had resisted calls to speed up reform of the abstraction regime.

NFU chief environment adviser Diane Mitchell said: “Agriculture must have continued and fair access to water and it is more important to us to take time and care over the design of any new abstraction regime and to ensure that it meets our future needs, rather than hastily pushing the changes through.”