Chair: Ali Morse, The Wildlife Trusts
Vice Chair: Jazz Austin, RSPB
Link: Ellie Ward, Policy and Information 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).
In November 2021, Blueprint responded to the Environment Agency consultation on Water Resources Charge Proposals. In October 2021, the group responded to the consultation on Government's Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat, setting out our reasons for why we believe that Government has not identified the most relevant strategic priorities. This includes lack of mention of climate change adaptation and mitigation, and lack of ambition with regards to nature-based solutions and ecosystem resilience.
In September 2021, Blueprint released the report 'Actions to Recover England's Waters and Wildlife'. This sets out our vision for the freshwater environment and our ‘how to’ strategy for bringing our freshwaters back to health, before it is too late, with recommendations under three key themes - Recover Biodiversity, Drive Down Pollution, and Re-think Our Relationship With Water. The group also responded to a range of consultations on the water industry, including the WINEP, the WISER, and the Government's Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) to Ofwat. This follows the release of Blueprint for Water's 'Environmental Manifesto for PR24' in September 2021, setting out what Government, regulators and water companies must do if PR24 is to deliver a step-change for people and nature.
In July 2021, Blueprint responded to the Ofwat consultation 'PR24 and beyond: Creating tomorrow, together', outlining our environmental ambitions for PR24. Blueprint also published their 'Top 10 Asks' for the Regional Water Resources Plans, which the group will explore further in their Water Resources Webinars series. This series, led by Blueprint for Water and a range of external speakers, will support environmental stakeholders in getting to grips with Regional Planning. More information available here.
In May 2021, Blueprint responded to the Environment Agency decision not to undertake a new Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the third round of river basin management plans. We questioned the justification for this decision and raised our concerns, particularly for what this means for the ambition of the river basin management plans.
In March 2021, Blueprint responded to the Environment Agency consultation 'Updating the determination of water stressed areas in England'. We highlighted the need for full, universal metering across England, as we believe this is the fairest way to charge customers, can deliver significant water, energy and carbon savings, and helps to reduce abstraction needs, leaving more water in the environment.
In February 2021, Blueprint worked alongside Link's Chemical Taskforce to respond to the EAC Inquiry into Water Quality in Rivers. We raised concerns around the lack of progress in protecting and enhancing water quality, and outlined the need for strong and ambitious targets underpinned with sufficient funding, monitoring and enforcement. This follows the release of water quality data in September 2020, revealing that 0% of rivers, lakes and streams are classed as in good health in England, despite a target for all waters to be in good health by 2027. We need the Government to ensure we have the legal commitments, high standards, pollution prevention and funding to turn the tide for our rivers. Link highlighted the issue through media work which resulted in the story featuring in almost every national newspaper.
In January 2021, Blueprint worked alongside Link's Agriculture Group to respond to the Defra Farming Rules for Water Regulatory Review. We highlighted our concerns for the lack of funding and enforcement, and outlined the need for a strong regulatory baseline to protect the freshwater environment from diffuse pollution.
For further information, contact Ellie Ward, Link’s Policy and Information Coordinator.
Last updated: 14 January 2022
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