The average water bill of residential customers in Scotland is set to increase about $12 per year, equivalent to 2% above inflation, for the period 2021-2027, informs the BBC.
The water industry regulator – Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WISC) – has issued a draft plan for 2021-2027 which sets the path for the public utility Scottish Water to maintain high-quality services while addressing climate change and transitioning to net-zero emissions. The plan allows the utility to deliver $5.8 billion in investment, an increase of more than $1.3 billion from the amount allowed in the current 2015-2021 regulatory period.
The investment is meant to ensure water infrastructure such as pipes and sewerage systems are resilient to extreme weather conditions. In addition, it puts Scottish Water on course to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, in line with the Objectives set by the Scottish Ministers.
WICS’ Chief Executive, Alan Sutherland said in a statement: “We understand that many customers are facing financial difficulties and that the economy is under pressure, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
However, the pandemic has also “underlined just how important a reliable and high-quality water system is”, and stressed the need to “futureproof these services for current and future generations”.
The water industry regulator defends this is the right time to boost investment: “To delay increased investment would put water quality, reliability and the 2040 net zero target at significant risk, with the likelihood of even higher bills to fix those problems in future.”
The Scottish Government declared a climate emergency in 2019, and its Programme for Government announced an ambitious plan to become carbon neutral by 2045. In response, Scottish Water developed a routemap towards net-zero emissions by 2040. “Our aim is to reduce the amount of energy we consume to deliver our vital water and wastewater services.”, said Chief Executive Douglas Millican.
The proposal of the WISC is now open for consultation until November 19, 2020, after which the water industry regulator will publish a final determination, expected on December 10, 2020.