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New national water strategy in the pipeline


ENVIRONMENT AGENCY chief executive Baroness Barbara Young this week urged government to tackle water industry regulation as part of its new national water strategy.

'Personally I want to see it (the strategy) tackle the really big regulatory issues, ' Young told NCE.

Environment minister Ian Pearson is currently working on a new strategy for water resources in England and Wales.

It will update the 2002 strategy document 'Directing the Flow'.

Under the current system, Pearson reviews water company business plans and considers advice from stakeholders such as the Environment Agency before advising regulator Ofwat on what environmental measures must be incorporated into investment plans.

These plans are then used by the regulator to set water price limits. Under this arrangement the regulator retains ultimate control over price setting and investment.

'Are we getting the best results from the whole regulatory process?' asked Young. 'It is strange that the minister has not got many cards in his hands and there is not much he can do if the regulator disagrees with what he advises.

'The whole process should be looked at.' In an interview with NCE, Young said she would like to see water companies acting as water service companies that advised and provided equipment to customers enabling them to be more water efficient.

Ideally water companies would work with people advising them on and fitting low flow showers, taps and devices to reduce water use.

'We would also like to see a reduction in stamp duty on water efficient homes, the same as there is with energy efficient properties.'

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