New environmental scorecards flag up gaps in water companies PR19 business plans for 2020-25

New scorecards, analysing how successful water company plans for the upcoming AMP7 2020-25 investment programme are likely to be in protecting and improving the environment, have been published by Blueprint for Water, part of the Wildlife and Countryside Link nature coalition, the largest environment coalition in England.

The environmental review of the firms’ plans comes just days before water sector regulator Ofwat publishes its Initial Assessment of the Business Plans on 31 January 2019.According to Blueprint for Water, which is a working group within Wildlife and Countryside Link, the scorecards and the detailed analysis behind them reveal a mixed picture in terms of environmental ambition and commitment in the business plans published by England’s water companies in September 2018.

The coalition says they have seen a ‘positive step change in environmental ambition from the water sector’ in the current PR19 planning cycle compared to the previous PR14 business plans. However, despite progress by the water sector, the analysis has highlighted key areas which Blueprint for Water says need action from companies, including:

  • factoring the value of natural capital into all water companies’ planning and decision making by PR24;
  • going further to ensure significant pollution incidents do not occur, including better monitoring and self-reporting;
  • greater efforts to incentivise customers to reduce their water consumption;
  • a much stronger public voice from water companies on policy issues that affect the interests of their customers and the environment they depend on to operate

The review of the companies’ main business plans revealed that, of the water-and-sewerage companies, Northumbrian Water, South West Water, and Anglian Water best meet the environmental benchmarks set by the NGOs.

Northumbrian Water, South West Water and Southern Water do best in terms of their ambition on those common commitments required by OFWAT that are most relevant to the environment.

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