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Water policy moving too slowly says MPs’ report

A committee of MPs has criticised the government’s Water White Paper because it “lacks ambition and urgency”.

In a report published last week, the Commons Environment, food and rural affairs committee said proposals to tackle over-abstraction should be implemented sooner than outlined in the White Paper.

It also accused the government of being “disappointingly weak” in its approach to water metering.

Committee chairman Anne McIntosh said the government’s plans to reform the abstraction regime by the mid-to-late 2020s “will not take effect rapidly enough given that our rivers are already running dry”.
McIntosh was equally robust about the need for water metering.

Clear target

“It’s hard to see how the White Paper’s call for water to be managed as a precious resource can be reconciled with the lack of any clear target to increase metering levels,” she said.

But water minister Richard Benyon repeated government opposition to universal metering.

“I don’t believe a one-size-fits-all solution is the best way forward and companies should work with their customers to find the solution that works best in their local area,” he said.

The report also says the government should do more to promote the use of sustainable drainage systems. It said it was “deeply worrying” that ministers and insurers had failed to agree about providing cover for homes in areas of flood risk.

Ministers were set to publish a draft Water Bill this week, outlining the legislation to implement proposals in the Water White Paper.

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