The shape of water: consultations launched for how water resources will be used in years to come

The five regional water resource groups that cover England have launched the first round of consultation on their “emerging water resource management plans”.

For the first time, these plans will cover the management of both supply and demand for water across a region. Previously, each water company did their own plans with little or no reference to the bigger picture.

The plans for the South East, the East, the South West, the West, and the North, seek to change that. In future water company plans will need to fit within these regional plans. In turn, these regional plans must respond to the challenges laid down by the National Framework for Water Resources, publish in 2020.

Commenting on the launch of the consultations, Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust said:

“There has rightfully been a lot of attention paid to the pollution of our rivers. The Angling Trust has been at the centre of campaigning to stop this pollution through our Anglers Against Pollution campaign. But as well as clean rivers we need plenty of water for them to be healthy places for fish to grow and thrive. Managing our water, in terms of supply – where we get it from and how we store it – and demand – how much we use and how water companies reduce leaks – is the second leg of a sustainable approach to managing our freshwater environment.

“We shall be looking carefully at these emerging plans. While they all claim our rivers and freshwater habitats is a major priority, the proof will be in the detail of what they propose. A sustainable system has to ensure there is enough water left for our fish and wildlife.

“While we do not underestimate the scale of the challenge, with a growing population and the impacts of climate change meaning England will need an extra 3.5bn litres of water per day by 2050, it is vitally important the environment is protected and improved. This is particularly true in the South East and East, where some of our most precious habitats, such as chalk streams and the fenlands, are to be found.”

The Angling Trust will be working alongside Blueprint for Water in responding to these regional plans. We will be assessing them against the 10 criteria Blueprint published in July 2021. They are:

  • Meeting the needs of the environment first;
  • Increasing resilience at times of drought and floods;
  • Delivering increased biodiversity;
  • Supporting the need to reach net-zero by 2050;
  • Reducing demand, through reduced leakage and more efficient water use;
  • Reducing the amount non-public water supply abstractors use through greater efficiency;
  • Reducing the impact of new development on water resources;
  • Delivering greater benefit through more use of natural based solutions;
  • Working in partnership to drive through change; and
  • Being vocal where plans and policy fail to deliver.

The five plans are open for consultation until the end of February/beginning of March (regions have different closing dates). We will be publishing more information on our responses to the plans and how you can support us by making your own response.

This is the first round of consultations. There will be further rounds and the final plans will be published in late 2023.

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