Acting Chair: Ali Morse, The Wildlife Trusts
Link: Jodie Le Marquand, Information and Policy Coordinator
Link’s Blueprint for Water Group works on freshwater policy issues and current work prioritises environmental resilience, sustainable abstraction, water quality and agricultural pollution (through joint work with Link’s Agriculture group.
This month, Blueprint wrote an open letter to the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency highlighting our key concerns from his recent speech, surrounding the Water Framework Directive. In light of growing public concern about water pollution, over-abstraction of sensitive rivers and streams, and serious ongoing shortcomings in water quality, we strongly believe that any weakening of Water Framework Standards would be a backward step. Read the full letter here.
In July, Blueprint for Water publishes its ‘Naturally Resilient’ report, jointly coordinated and funded by water companies and the Environment Agency. There is no doubt that the water environment and water sector are intrinsically linked. The evidence is available but we now need a legislative and policy framework to match; that pushes for environmental ambition as opposed to stymieing.
Recently, four water companies referred their price determinations to the CMA, claiming the Final Determination decisions issued by Ofwat place at risk a number of schemes which would ease pressure on the environment and in some cases deliver significant environmental benefit in line with sustainability principles and customer desires. We use our submission to the CMA to question whether in this instance, Ofwat has got the balance quite right.
Blueprint recently published their Changing Courses document, detailing how the 25 Year Environment Plan commitments could be used to deliver for the water environment. Find our recommendations here. The group are currently working on their Blueprint for Water ‘vision’, which will sit above this document and set out what needs to be delivered for a better future for our water environment.
In April, the group submitted their detailed response to the Environment Agency’s Challenges & Choices consultation, spanning a number of topics including chemicals, invasive species and plastics. This followed on from the group’s previous, higher-level response in December. Ali Morse, Acting of Chair of the group, gives a summary of our key asks in her blog. To improve the way we treat water will require far better integration of water-related objectives into other policy areas such as agriculture, energy and land use planning. We must increasingly consider river systems as just that; systems, recognising the relationship of rivers with other parts of the freshwater environment, and the interrelationships between the multiple stresses that affect it. The consultation deadline has now been extended to September. We encourage everyone to submit their feedback.
Link and Greener UK have been working on joint advocacy around the Environment Bill. Blueprint for Water have lead on the watery aspects of the Bill. The second reading of the Environment Bill saw some wins for water, such as, water efficiency/consumption targets, abstraction reform mention of chalk streams and an agreement to strengthen links between nature recovery strategies and the new Environmental Land Management Programme (which although not water-specific, is an important principle effecting the wider environment).
For further information, contact Jodie Le Marquand, Link’s Information and Policy Coordinator.
Last updated: 3 September 2020
Also in the policy hub: