As the water companies in England and Wales sit down to draft their future investment plans for 2020-2025 (PR19) they are doing so at a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty. We must make sure that the environment does not become a casualty of confusion and that the plans will deliver for people and nature. Our Blueprint for PR19, launched today, sets out the priorities for the environment for PR19.
The Blueprint for Water coalition of 18 environment NGOs has been talking to the water companies, regulators and with the Government over the last year to share our ideas and inform our thinking on the environmental priorities for PR19. Our Blueprint for PR19 sets out these priorities.
Why are we interested?
The water companies in England and Wales are major players in the environment. They invest over £8bn per year on behalf of their customers – all of us. It is essential they play their part if we want to see healthy rivers, clean beaches and coastal waters, safe drinking water, less waste, reduced flooding and thriving wildlife. We certainly have work to do – the 2016 State of Nature report[i] found that 13% of our freshwater and wetland species are currently at risk of extinction and only 20% of water bodies in England and Wales are currently achieving ‘good ecological status'[ii].
What do we want to see?
We passionately believe that a healthy natural environment is at the heart of a resilient and successful water industry – an industry that can meet the needs of current and future customers and deal with the challenges we face, such as climate change and population growth.
Blueprint for PR19 sets out four headline outcomes we want to see achieved:
- Improving catchment management from source to sea;
- Stopping pollution of our waters;
- Using water wisely whilst pricing it fairly; and
- Keeping our rivers flowing and wetlands wet.
For each of these four outcomes, we have identified a number of specific priorities we want to see addressed in the plans. It also suggests how we might measure success.
Over the next month, we will be publishing a series of blogs from Blueprint coalition members and from the water sector on each of these outcomes…watch this space!
What can you do?
We are urging water companies to adopt our Blueprint for PR19 and you can do your part too.
The water companies will be engaging with stakeholders and customers over the next year to ensure their plans align with customer interests and priorities. So, please take the opportunity to have your say and stand up for nature. Check your water company’s website to see how you can engage and feel free to share or use the Blueprint for PR19.
Finally, if you want to find out how your company is performing, and how it compares with other companies, then take a look at this great new website www.discoverwater.co.uk.
Nathan Richardson, Senior Policy Officer, RSPB