Environment, Food and Rural Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by David Linnell

On the following questions:

How best can the White Paper’s aims to promote water efficiency and the use of sustainable drainage be implemented?

Do you support the White Paper’s proposals on affordability of water bills for householders?

Does the White Paper omit any key issues where further policy action is required to ensure sustainable, reliable and cost-effective water supplies?

I submit that the White Paper fails to address one of the most important issues.

The public will not respond sufficiently to the need to use less water unless a positive and speedy programme is put in place to introduce water metering for far more households, with suitable protection for those who would have difficulty in affording their bills. To leave this—as the White Paper suggests—to the water companies is merely putting off solving the problem—the companies have little incentive—and no compulsion upon them—to introduce meters to existing customers (and even less incentive to do so to customers who would have difficulty in affording their bills).

If the Government (understandably) wishes to avoid the opprobrium of being seen as directly responsible for compelling households to adopt meters, then it should set the water companies challenging targets for achieving set proportions of metered households, with suitable penalties applied to any company which fails to meet its targets.

21 December 2011

Prepared 4th July 2012