A public consultation has been launched on building a long-term vision for England’s water sector, serving as the first step towards finding ways of driving and broadening the industry’s role in tackling a series of unprecedented challenges.
The Developing a 2050 Vision for the Water Sector discussion paper, launched by industry body Water UK, will look at developing a long-term strategic plan for the future to address issues such as the increased risk of drought, flooding, population growth, the climate crisis and biodiversity loss, which will all place significant pressure on ageing infrastructure, the environment and our water resources.
It also confirms the sector’s ambition to be recognised as an environmental leader, taking action to improve and protect waterways, to tackle the severe impacts of climate change and protect the long-term interests of customers by keeping business and household bills affordable.
Water UK chief executive Christine McGourty said: “The launch of today’s public consultation on our 2050 Vision for the water sector in England is the beginning of a dialogue, with those inside and outside of the industry, on how we collectively address the challenges we face, such as the climate emergency.
“Water is a precious natural resource, and over the coming decades, society will need water companies, suppliers, and others working together to continue delivering a reliable world-class service.”
Stakeholder responses are being welcomed to the Vision discussion paper until March 31st. Virtual roundtable events are also due to be held by Water UK to collate views from across the sector, with the final paper due to be published later this summer.
This comes after it was announced that water companies around the UK have joined forces as part of the global Race to Zero campaign, which pledges to deliver a net zero water supply by 2030.
Water UK was the first industry trade body to be made one of the 20 official partners to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change campaign, which aims to rally leadership across cities, regions, businesses and investors to deliver a healthy and resilient zero carbon recovery.
The sector launched its Net Zero 2030 Routemap in November 2020, intending to provide water companies with a framework to help them develop their own net zero action plans. It estimates that between £2 and £4 billion will be needed to tackle the emissions associated with providing clean water to millions of homes and businesses.
The UK’s water industry was the first sector anywhere in the world to publish a routemap of this kind to achieve industry-wide net zero ambitions. It’s estimated that water companies will succeed in preventing the emission of ten million tonnes of greenhouse gases by reaching net zero 20 years earlier than the legally binding target of 2050.