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Water Bill – A Missed Opportunity - Angling Trust urges MPs to stand up for our rivers



The Angling Trust, in a special Parliamentary Briefing ahead of today’s Second Reading of the government’s Water Bill, is urging MPs to stand up for our rivers by supporting a raft of new amendments aimed at ending unsustainable abstractions from threatened river catchments and tackling the ever rising demand and wastage of water. The briefing, which was prepared by the Trust’s National Campaign Coordinator Martin Salter in conjunction with other national environmental groups, describes the Bill as ‘lacking in strength or ambition’.

In December 2011 the Angling Trust, along with most environmental NGOs, gave a warm welcome to the government’s Water White Paper – Water for Life.

In the introduction the then Environment Secretary, Caroline Spellman MP, explained why reform was urgently needed with only a quarter of our water bodies now ‘fully functioning ecosystems’, water supplies under stress, challenges of population growth and climate change, and how action is needed to ‘keep our rivers flowing and our water supplies reliable and affordable’.

The case for further reform was articulated recently with the publication of the article Water – Time to Raise our Game by the former Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon in which he said:

But the Bill is only part of the solution. For the sake of the water company customers of today and tomorrow and the environment that supports them we need meaningful abstraction reform, proper demand management and a deluge of increased investment in reservoirs, pipes and other infrastructure.

Richard Benyon went on to say:

Around two-thirds of our rivers are failing ecosystems. Much of the cause for this shaming statistic is over abstraction. We suck aquifers dry to provide cheaper water for an increasing population in the south and east of England.   

 Martin Salter said:

We’ve had many fine words and promises from our politicians about fixing our rivers but the Water Bill currently before parliament lacks the strength or ambition to rise to the challenges so correctly outlined in the government’s own White Paper. And when the former Minister for the Natural Environment intervenes and urges more radical reform it is difficult to see how MPs can be satisfied with a measure that fails to address the key issues of abstraction reform and demand management.”

He added:

“Last year’s chaotic weather saw a groundwater drought leading to hosepipe bans, at the same time that we experienced heavy rainfall and flash floods. Such extremes are becoming the norm, and they highlight the importance of sustainable water management. That is why the Angling Trust and other environmental groups believes that the Water Bill must ensure greater sustainability and resilience in the water industry with the building of more storage reservoirs to capture heavy flows and avoid damaging abstractions in times of scarcity. We want the water regulator Ofwat to have a duty towards the environment as well as water customers and we believe that it is ludicrous that the UK is almost alone amongst the developed world in not having universal water metering or a plan to introduce it. This is a once in a generation chance to reform a situation that is failing the environment and our wildlife and MPs need to rise to challenge.”



More info

A copy of the Angling Trust briefing can be viewed / downloaded HERE

For more info on water metering go to

Water Facts

  • The UK has less rainfall per person than our northern European neighbours
  • London is drier than Istanbul
  • In the UK every person uses approximately 150 litres of water a day, a figure that has doubled since the 1970s and which has been growing every year by 1% since 1930

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