Since publication of the SPS there has been a growing amount of commentary see below: Read the SPS here
The Government’s Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) for water, laid before Parliament today (February 2nd), urges water companies to do more to protect the environment. But the Angling Trust has expressed concern that the guidance given to the water regulator OFWAT could fall well short of what will be needed to end the scandal of untreated sewage polluting the nation’s rivers.
The SPS claims to want to see “protecting the environment” placed at the heart of OFWAT’s strategic priorities and “urges” water companies “to do more…”
However, it fails to signal the need for the step change required in investment in outdated waste water infrastructure which has resulted in record levels of discharges in untreated sewage from facilities that can no longer meet demand. (400,000 times in 2020 – up from 293,000 in 2919). Click here to read more
Rivers Trust – SPS for Ofwat “not yet ambitious enough and still lacks clarity”
The Rivers Trust has welcomed the prioritisation of the environment for the first time in Defra’s latest Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat – but expressed concern that the SPS is not yet ambitious enough, and still lacks clarity. According to the Trust, for too long Ofwat has been “too narrowly focused on keeping costs down in the short-term, with little regard for long-term impacts on the environment and the legacy for future generations.”
However, the new emphasis on long-term thinking, innovation, and partnership working to drive improvements across water catchments gives hope that the water sector will play a stronger role in environmental improvement and nature recovery. Click here to read more
CIWEM Alastair Chisholm on SPSS Management & Regulation, Water Resources
The government’s strategic priorities for Ofwat have been published and laid before Parliament in a strategic priorities statement (SPS). Since previous statements, emphasis on the environment has strengthened considerably, marking a shift that environmentalists should welcome. Next it will be for Ofwat to pick up the baton and run with it through PR24 says CIWEM Director of Policy, Alastair Chisholm.
Much of the government guidance to Ofwat in advance of recent investment rounds has focused strongly on issues like resilience, affordability, consistent and good levels of service, leakage, and competition and markets. Quite customer and service-centric; very ‘Ofwat-y’ you might say. Click here to read more
The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has welcomed today’s publication of the Government’s Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) guidance to Ofwat. The SPS guidance to Ofwat has reflected a number of recommendations the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) made in correspondence with the DEFRA Secretary of State and its recent report, Water Quality in Rivers.
The recommendations that the Government has accepted, which are reflected in the SPS guidance, include:
- Challenge water companies to demonstrate how they can deliver zero serious pollution incidents by 2030;
- Prioritising investment over lowering bills to ensure that the sewerage system is fit for the future;
- Amending previous wording around the use of storm overflows being used in ‘exceptional’ circumstances to ‘only in cases of unusually heavy rainfall’;
- Prioritising overflows that do the most harm to sensitive environments;
- Water companies should significantly increase their use of nature-based and catchment-based solutions.