Public inquiry into water company plans

by Stephen Hurrell. Published Mon 03 Aug 2009 16:57, Last updated: 2009-08-03
Water resources may be stretched in future

The Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, has called for a public inquiry into the water resources management plans of Thames Water and South East Water, and for a public hearing into Portsmouth Water's plan.

Benn asked all 21 English water companies to submit plans last year and 11 of them have now been given the go-ahead.

Meanwhile, eight others have been asked to supply additional information before Benn makes a decision on the plans.

The plans submitted by Thames Water, South East Water and Portsmouth Water will be reopened for the public to discuss before any decision is taken.

Each company has outlined plans for maintaining the water supply over the next 25 years. This includes estimates of future demand for water and new methods of water supply.

The quantity of greenhouse gases released in the supply of water will also be considered as the Government attempts to create a sustainable future for UK water supplies.

Thames Water recently angered local residents when a proposed 17 percent price increase over five years was rejected by the watchdog Ofwat.

Speaking about the price rise, David Owens, Chief Executive for Thames Water, said: "We've spent the past two years preparing our plan. We know our region better than anyone else and our proposals are based on sound evidence and, most importantly, what customers say they want. We're not prepared to cut corners on essential work, but we're not 'gold-plating' either.”

Ten companies were told to proceed with finalising their draft plans to form the final statutory document. They were
Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water, 
Bristol Water, 
Veolia Water Southeast Limited (previously Folkestone and Dover Water Ltd), 
Southern Water, 
South Staffordshire Water, 
South West Water, 
Sutton and East Surrey Water, 
Veolia Water East Limited (previously Tendring Hundred Water Services Ltd), 
United Utilities and 
Yorkshire Water.

Eight water companies were told to provide further additional information to the Secretary of State before he could make his final decision. These were Anglian Water, Cambridge Water, Cholderton and District Water, 
Essex and Suffolk Water, Northumbrian Water, Severn Trent Water, 
Veolia Water Three Valleys (previously Three Valleys Water plc) and 
Wessex Water.

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