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Defra launches its Plan for Water policy paper

In January 2023, Defra set out its broad environmental goals and targets with the Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP23). They are now delivering a Plan for Water, which brings together the steps already taken with new actions.

The plan intends to transform the management of the water system, deliver cleaner water for nature and people, and secure a plentiful water supply. The actions are for Government and regulators to lead on, but Defra says everyone needs to be involved in delivering this, including water companies, businesses, regulators and the public.

The plan sets out measures to transform and integrate our water system, address sources of pollution and boost water supplies through more investment, tighter regulation, and more effective enforcement.

In Chapter 3 of the plan for securing a plentiful water supply, the plan explains how Defra intends to deliver half of the 4 billion litre a day gap in public water supply by 2050 through increased supply, citing, among other actions, the National Policy Statement for Water Resources Infrastructure. The other half of the 4 billion litre a day gap in public water supply will be delivered through improving water efficiency, reducing demand, and cutting wasted water.

Item 3.5 of the Plan for Water details how the Government will improve water efficiency, including

  • Encouraging water companies to consider how to rapidly increase smart meter installations for household and non-household customers
  • Delivering the Roadmap to Water Efficiency in new developments and retrofits, which sets out 10 new actions that government will take forward. (More information for BMA members about the Roadmap and Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 can be found in our briefings in Insights, issue 5)

Defra will:

  • Explore whether improved water efficiency standards can be included in the Decent Homes Standards, when replacing items not meeting the criteria for good repair or reasonable facilities
  • Review the inclusion of water scarcity information within Energy Performance Certificates for buildings
  • Develop minimum product standards for water efficiency including for showers, taps, and toilets, following the launch of the mandatory water efficiency label
  • Strengthen consumer information on water usage, including leakage from everyday structures in the household, through billing and smart metering
  • Encourage innovation through Ofwat’s £100 million water efficiency fund to support the development of a range of new approaches to water efficiency between 2025 and 2030

The whole policy paper, Plan for Water: our integrated plan for delivering clean and plentiful water, can be viewed using the link.

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