The NFU has welcomed government commitments to improving drought resilience published in the National Infrastructure Strategy as part of the Spending Review announcement which propose doubling expenditure on flood and coastal defences.
It is well known that the government believes investment in infrastructure will have a key role to play in economic recovery, both by maintaining jobs in the short term, and creating the conditions for long term sustainable growth.
The National Infrastructure Strategy responds to a series of recommendations previously made by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) and confirms the government’s demand for the public water sector to plan to deliver resilience to a one in 500-year drought.
This ambition is already being reflected in the ongoing work to develop long term multi-sector regional water plans.
NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said:
“Key to the delivery of more integrated management of water will be the construction of better, more innovative water infrastructure that recognises and properly values the benefit of this approach to the environment, communities and the economy.”
The government also announced that it will:
- Consider the introduction of a statutory target to reduce water demand using powers in the Environment Bill. The target would be on the volume of water distributed or abstracted by water companies, encompassing household use, non-household use and leakage.
- Consider an NIC recommendation to expand the use of compulsory metering by the 2030s in areas beside those already designated as ‘water stressed’ areas (where those arrangements already exist), with an announcement to be made in 2021 on next steps to reduce per capita water consumption.
- Endorse the NIC’s recommendation for a 50% leakage reduction by water companies by 2050.
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