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Environmental NGOs, water companies create Blueprint for Water

Twenty environmental NGOs, co-ordinated by Blueprint for Water, and nine water companies have pulled together to create a set of shared principles setting out how they will work together to help leave the environment in a better state.

Anglian Water, Essex & Suffolk Water, Northumbrian Water, Severn Trent, Southern Water, Thames Water, United Utilities, Wessex Water and Yorkshire Water are all involved as well as Waterwise.

The companies and charities are already working together on many projects across England. These projects cover a huge range of environmental issues, including tackling pollution by ‘unflushables’, natural water filtering and working with farmers on more environmentally friendly agricultural techniques.

The firms have this month all submitted their business plans for 2020-25. The organisations intend for the shared principles to deliver more effective joint working on environmental and wildlife issues, including more on-the-ground projects. achieving better outcomes for the environment and improved value for money. 

The other parties involved in creating the blueprint are Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Angling Trust, A Rocha UK, British Canoeing, Buglife, Freshwater Habitats Trust, Institute of Fisheries Management, Marine Conservation Society, National Trust, Rewilding Britain, The Rivers Trust, RSPB, Salmon and Trout Conservation, The Wildlife Trusts, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Wildlife and Countryside Link, Woodland Trust, WWF-UK and ZSL (Zoological Society of London).

The shared principles announced include: greater collaboration on policy and projects; promoting greater awareness of the links between water management and the natural environment; working together to achieve and build upon Water Framework Directive obligations; sharing key data sets; and joint efforts to enhance and improve the resilience of water-based ecosystems.

Hannah Freeman of Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, chair of Blueprint for Water, said: "This is the first time water companies and nature charities have agreed how to work together ahead of business plans being delivered. With our waters under increasing pressure it is essential that businesses and environmentalists are more joined-up in acting as their guardians.

"We must make sure investment and action delivers effective improvements for wildlife, habitats, and customers alike, and this initiative is a very welcome steps towards achieving change."

Nathan Richardson of RSPB, vice-chair of Blueprint for Water, said: "With the UK’s waters in a critical state, this pooling of resources and expertise is essential to help make them healthy again. Joint projects on the ground across the country are already achieving success and we look forward to more joint work on policy, targets, campaigns, and initiatives delivering results for the environment."

Heidi Mottram CBE, chief executive of Northumbrian Water Group, said: "Boosting the health of the UK’s waters is vital to both the environment and water companies. With billions of pounds invested every year by water companies in improving our water systems for our customers and the natural world, we are working hard to improve our rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and seas.

"We want to take this further, in partnership with environmental groups, working closely with nature experts on the ground, and to influence change behind the scenes. Together we can push for changes to help improve outcomes for the environment and deliver a more sustainable and resilient water sector."

Chris Gerrard, natural catchment and biodiversity manger at Anglian Water, said: "Smart, collaborative thinking across the water industry and the NGO community can deliver great results for the natural environment. But more than that, partnership like this can deliver what communities tell us they want, which is protection of the countryside at a price tag that doesn’t cost the earth.

"We’re increasingly looking for ways to make use of natural processes in our own management of the water cycle. That’s an ambition that is best achieved through the power of partnership.’

Steve Robertson, Thames Water chief executive officer, said: "Our primary role, to provide resilient water and waste services to customers across London and the Thames Valley, touches the environment on multiple levels every single day. When planning our investment, it's hugely important to work closely with environmental groups to limit the impact we have and ensure we sustain a thriving environment for future generations."

Malcolm Horne, head of environment at Severn Trent, said: "It is important to us that we both protect the natural resources in our region and enable our customers and communities to enjoy the green spaces and landscapes where they live.

"Working closely with councils, regulators, trusts, volunteer groups, charities and specialist groups to get the most from our combined expertise and resource has proven to be the best way to do this. Whether restoring huge peat bogs, helping farmers to use less pesticides, improving habitat for wildlife or cleaning up rivers – there’s something for all our customers to enjoy."

Will Warner, Southern Water’s environmental policy & regulation manager, said: "Our relationship with the environment is a vital element of our business. Ensuring we act in a responsible, sustainable way is an essential part of how we work. We all want to see healthy rivers, clean beaches and coastal waters and thriving wildlife, which is why we’re proud to be part of this unique coalition of experts."

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Topic: Innovation , Policy & Regulation
Tags: Anglian Water , Essex & Suffolk Water , Northumbrian Water , Severn Trent Water , Southern Water , Thames Water , United Utilities , Wessex Water , Yorkshire Water , Waterwise , environment

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