Envireau Water’s Tamsin Morey attended the DEFRA ‘Water Abstraction Reform’ Consultation Workshop in Manchester on the 27th February 2014.
It was an opportunity to hear about the proposed changes from the horse’s mouth as well as engage in discussion with both representatives of DEFRA and the Environment Agency as well as the other attendees. The majority of attendees were abstractors in the Minerals / Food and Drink industries.
Two options are being proposed for reform:
• Current System Plus
• Water Shares
The two options share the same overarching principles of better environmental protection at low flows and freeing up some of the water currently held under ‘sleeper licences’ but they differ in terms of the day to day management of abstraction which has a knock on effect for the security of supply for a business dependent on water.
Further detail on the two options can be found in the consultation document.
It was a very interesting day with the organisers wanting the most feedback on their proposals for transitioning from the current to the new system, and the development of a ‘reserve’ of water that can be allocated to new applicants into the abstraction system.
The show of hands at the end of the workshop indicated that the majority of the attendees would rather see the ‘Current System Plus’ option implemented, or better still don’t mess with the current system! The appetite for water trading that seems to have been anticipated with the development of the proposals was certainly not evident among the attendees; short term trading does not facilitate business planning.
Envireau Water will be compiling a response to the consultation which closes on the 28th March 2014, keep an eye on our website for more details.