Memorandum submitted by Environmental Industries Commission (eIC) (FW 16)

 

From the Chief Executive, on behalf of the Environmental Industries Commission

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

1. EIC was launched in 1995 to give the UK's environmental technology and services industry a strong and effective voice with Government. EIC has grown to be the largest trade association in Europe for the environmental technology and services (ETS) industry. EIC's Water Management Working Group represents over 80 companies, providing expertise and technologies in water pollution control and the sustainable management of water resources.

 

2. EIC is concerned that the Flood and Water Management Bill does not adequately promote the use of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS).

 

3. EIC believes that the Bill should more fully address this issue, by requiring:

 

i. Local authorities to take a more proactive role in promoting the use of SUDS. This is particularly important as part of the process of considering major new development schemes.

 

ii. Ofwat to recognise SUDS as part of Water Company Assets for the purposes of Ofwat financial settlements.

 

iii. The National Policy Statement for water infrastructure drawn up under the Planning Act 2008 to promote and take into account the use of SUDS and water efficiency measures.

 

4. EIC also believes that Building Regulations and planning guidance should include a presumption in favour of the use of SUDS in new building developments.

 

5. While flood risk is clearly an important issue, particularly in the light of climate change, there is also a need to focus on the water aspect of adaptation to climate change, and on quantitative issues concerning availability of future water supply and the efficiency of water use.

 

6. EIC believes that companies need greater incentives, through Ofwat regulation, to invest in innovation in treatment processes, energy efficiency, and leakage and water efficiency activities, as there is little evidence that competition is currently delivering sufficiently rapid innovation in these areas.

 

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems

 

7. EIC's concerns about the Flood and Water Management Bill centre on what we consider to be inadequate current arrangements for promoting the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS), and our view that the Bill should more fully address this issue, and should establish an effective set of new arrangements.

 

8. The details of SUDS differ, but in general Sustainable Drainage Systems can be seen as systems that lie some way in between reliance on engineered drainage systems and reliance on purely natural drainage.

 

9. SUDS, where successfully implemented, can achieve the following objectives:

 

a. reducing the risk of flooding, through increasing the capacity of land to absorb water

b. reducing the risk of contamination of water

c. increasing the sustainability of water use, thereby avoiding the risk of inadequate quantities of water being available to meet future demand, and also tending to reduce any requirements for new reservoir construction, and its financial and other costs.

 

10. EIC is concerned that the Pitt Review did not give adequate attention to the potential for SUDS schemes to reduce the risk of flooding. We believe that this should be remedied in the current Bill.

 

11. EIC would like to see amendments to the Bill to increase the amount of consideration given to the potential for SUDS schemes, and to make the implementation of SUDS more widespread, both within specific development schemes and through local authority planning more generally. These amendments would be consistent with the overall purpose of the Bill as currently drafted.

 

12. In addition, while flood risk (highlighted in the Pitt Review and in the Draft Bill) is clearly an important issue, particularly in the light of climate change, there is also a need to focus on the water aspect of adaptation to climate change (referred to in the Stern Report), and on quantitative issues concerning availability of future water supply (issues raised particularly by the Environment Agency) and the efficiency of water use. We do not believe that these aspects of water management have received sufficient consideration in the drawing up of the Bill. Consideration of these aspects strengthens the case for the more widespread implementation of SUDS.

 

Definition of "sustainable drainage"

 

13. EIC would like to see an addition to the definition and aims of "sustainable drainage", to add "increasing the efficiency of the use made of available water".

 

Schedule 3, page 48, line 14, insert

 

(e) protecting health and safety, and

(f) increasing the efficiency of the use made of available water.

 

 

Role of local authorities

 

14. Although we welcome the role it is proposed should be given to local authorities regarding approval of drainage systems, EIC would also like to see local authorities required to take a more proactive role in promoting the consideration and implementation of Sustainable Drainage Systems, and in drawing together stakeholders for this purpose. This is particularly important as part of the process of considering major new development schemes. This should be achieved through an additional clause to require local authorities to draw up Surface Water Management Plans.

 

15. This additional duty on local authorities should be integrated with their responsibilities concerning climate change adaptation, in order to encourage a joined-up approach to water management issues. This should be approached through requiring local authorities to have regard, when carrying out their duties under a new Flood and Water Management Act, to Statutory Guidance on adaptation to be issued under the Climate Change Act 2008.

 

16. There will be a need for increased specialist staff dealing with water issues in local authorities, and a need for training in order to provide staff with the necessary skills.

 

National Policy Statement

 

17. It is important that any quantification of expected future demand for water, and expected future need for reservoir capacity, should take into account the potential for the more sustainable use and re-use of available water; and that any decisions about the need for new reservoir capacity should be considered in a joined-up way alongside decisions and policy about SUDS, water efficiency, and the water aspect of climate change adaptation.

 

18. EIC therefore believes that the National Policy Statement for water infrastructure to be drawn up under the Planning Act 2008 should be worded so as to promote more efficient use of water resources, promote the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems, and take water efficiency, climate change adaptation, and SUDS into account in its assessment of future demand for water and reservoir capacity. This should be provided for by an obligation about the drawing up of the NPS, given to the Minister through an additional clause in the Flood and Water Management Bill.

 

Ofwat

 

19. An additional clause in the Bill should require Ofwat to recognise SUDS as part of Water Company Assets for the purposes of Ofwat financial settlements, and to review the mechanism that Water Companies use to charge for surface water drainage to incentivise the control of surface water at source. Currently there is little incentive for water companies to take part in SUDS schemes.

 

20. We note the Government's intention to consider including in the Bill provisions on competition and innovation in water markets, following the Cave Review. EIC believes that companies need greater incentives, through Ofwat regulation, to invest in innovation in treatment processes, energy efficiency, and leakage and water efficiency activities, as there is little evidence that competition is currently delivering sufficiently rapid innovation in these areas.

 

21. EIC has consistently argued that the current regulatory regime for the Periodic Review creates a "boom and bust" financial climate for the supply chain serving the water industry in the UK as capital expenditure tends to be concentrated towards the end of the five-year period. This situation leads to financial and managerial inefficiencies and instabilities in the supply chain and ultimately leads to higher costs for consumers. A consequence has been the migration of skilled resources out of this sector over the years to more stable sectors, where job security is better, resource management is easier and long-term planning can be better achieved, creating a severe and worsening skills shortage

 

22. The Bill should include an amendment to Ofwat's duties so that they have an obligation to promote a more long-term (twenty years or more) approach by water companies to their investment programmes. Ofwat should also actively assess water companies' proposals for their encouragement of environmental innovation.

 

23. EIC would therefore like to see the addition of the following new clause:

 

"In the Water Industry Act 1991, Section 2, there shall be inserted -

New subsection (3A):

'The Director shall carry out the duties imposed by this section in such a way as to:

(a) promote the sustainable management and use of water;

(b) ensure that the regulatory duty of Ofwat is structured to promote sustainability in the water management supply chain, paying particular attention to innovation in treatment processes, energy efficiency, job security, leakage control and water efficiency activities, including an obligation to promote a more long-term (twenty years or more) approach by water companies to their investment programmes;

(c) promote skills in the water industry, by publishing a skills strategy;

(d) promote employment in the water industry, through an annual report to Ministers on the number of jobs in the sector and in the supply chain.'"

 

The "Director" referred to is the Director of Ofwat.

 

24. EIC also supports the Cave Review's recommendation to establish an early stage public research and development programme for the water industry and water management, although we believe that this should be co-ordinated by Defra rather than Ofwat.

 

Home buyers' information packs

 

25. Home buyers' information packs should include information about drainage arrangements, including any use of SUDS.

 

Building Regulations

 

26. Building Regulations should be amended to include a presumption in favour of the use of SUDS in new building developments.

 

Planning guidance

 

27. Planning guidance should be amended to include a presumption in favour of the use of SUDS in new building developments.

 

28. Housing density guidelines in planning guidance should be reviewed in the light of the need for greater use of SUDS.

 

 

January 2010