Chair: Ali Morse, The Wildlife Trusts
Vice Chair: Rhiannon Niven, RSPB
Link: Ellie Ward, Policy and Information Coordinator
Link’s Blueprint for Water Group works on freshwater policy issues and current work prioritises environmental resilience, sustainable abstraction, water quality and agricultural pollution (through joint work with Link’s Agriculture group).
In May 2021, Blueprint responded to the Environment Agency decision not to undertake a new Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the third round of river basin management plans. We questioned the justification for this decision and raised our concerns, particularly for what this means for the ambition of the river basin management plans.
In March 2021, Blueprint responded to the Environment Agency consultation 'Updating the determination of water stressed areas in England'. We highlighted the need for full, universal metering across England, as we believe this is the fairest way to charge customers, can deliver significant water, energy and carbon savings, and helps to reduce abstraction needs, leaving more water in the environment.
In February 2021, Blueprint worked alongside Link's Chemical Taskforce to respond to the EAC Inquiry into Water Quality in Rivers. We raised concerns around the lack of progress in protecting and enhancing water quality, and outlined the need for strong and ambitious targets underpinned with sufficient funding, monitoring and enforcement. This follows the release of water quality data in September 2020, revealing that 0% of rivers, lakes and streams are classed as in good health in England, despite a target for all waters to be in good health by 2027. We need the Government to ensure we have the legal commitments, high standards, pollution prevention and funding to turn the tide for our rivers. Link highlighted the issue through media work which resulted in the story featuring in almost every national newspaper.
In January 2021, Blueprint worked alongside Link's Agriculture Group to respond to the Defra Farming Rules for Water Regulatory Review. We highlighted our concerns for the lack of funding and enforcement, and outlined the need for a strong regulatory baseline to protect the freshwater environment from diffuse pollution.
In August 2020, Blueprint wrote an open letter to the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency highlighting our key concerns from his recent speech, surrounding the Water Framework Directive. In light of growing public concern about water pollution, over-abstraction of sensitive rivers and streams, and serious ongoing shortcomings in water quality, we strongly believe that any weakening of Water Framework Standards would be a backward step. Read the full letter here.
In July 2020, Blueprint for Water published its ‘Naturally Resilient’ report, jointly coordinated and funded by water companies and the Environment Agency. There is no doubt that the water environment and water sector are intrinsically linked. The evidence is available but we now need a legislative and policy framework to match; that pushes for environmental ambition as opposed to stymieing.
In June 2020, Blueprint published their Changing Courses document, detailing how the 25 Year Environment Plan commitments could be used to deliver for the water environment. Find our recommendations here. The group are currently working on their Blueprint for Water ‘vision’, which will sit above this document and set out what needs to be delivered for a better future for our water environment.
For further information, contact Ellie Ward, Link’s Policy and Information Coordinator.
Last updated: 24 June 2021
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