Date: Tue 22 September 2009
Water industry must prioritise new climate obligations
Media statement by SCCS
Climate change campaigners today urged Scotland’s water industry regulator to ensure that it and Scottish Water prioritise complying with new climate change legislation.
The call is a response to the Water Industry Commission for Scotland’s consultation on its draft determination (proposal), which sets price limits on water charges. The Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) coalition is concerned that the resulting current investment plan for Scottish Water, one of the country’s biggest electricity consumers, would only finance climate change objectives ‘if possible’.
The draft determination for 2010-2014 concentrates on Priority 1 objectives set by the Scottish Government, while climate change is Priority 2.
Yet all public bodies will soon have new duties under the world-leading Climate Change (Scotland) Act to contribute to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and to plans to adapt to deal with flooding and other problems caused by global warming.
SCCS, which includes unions, environmental and international development organisations, said that excluding action on climate change objectives from the business plan that runs halfway to 2020 makes no sense when urgent early action is required to achieve the Act’s interim target of 42% emission cuts by 2020.
SCCS Chair Mike Robinson said: “The Scottish Government and wider public sector should be leading by example to help meet the important 42% target.
“It is extremely disappointing that Ministers set climate change as only a Priority 2 objective for Scottish Water, while limiting charge rises in a way that severely restricts options for spending on Priority 2 objectives.
“We have written to the Water Industry Commission for Scotland urging it to make funds available to Scottish Water so it can meet climate change objectives and new duties under the Act in this investment cycle.”
Lloyd Austin, Head of Policy, RSPB Scotland, said: "As one of the biggest electricity consumers, Scottish Water has the potential to make huge energy savings which will help reduce the long term costs to consumers.
"Early action on climate change adaptation and mitigation will not only help achieve statutory requirements but also ensure the long-term future and viability of the water industry."
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser, UNISON, said: "There is a lesson here for all public bodies as their new climate change duties will come into force in less than 18 months.
"In planning ahead and preparing budgets, they should be ensuring they can comply with the new duties.
“At Scottish Water there is potential for huge savings in energy costs and this requires strategic planning and prioritisation of investment that the regulator must allow for. The overall objective is to protect the planet for future generations. People expect the public sector to take a lead on this crucial issue."
Notes to Editors
1. The deadline for commenting on the WICS Draft Determination is Wed 23 Sep. The Draft Determination is at www.watercommission.co.uk/view_Determination.aspx
2. Sir Ian Byatt, WICS Chairman, is giving evidence on the Draft Determination today (Tuesday 22) to the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee at the Scottish Parliament.
3. SCCS believes that the Ministerial objectives on climate change as already given to Scottish Water are essential in fulfilling the new duties but without investment they risk not being achieved. Obviously objectives which are required by European Law must be met, and we have no argument with including, for example, Drinking Water Quality as a Priority 1. To reduce electricity consumption, investment is needed to help reduce leaks and encourage consumers to use water more wisely, thereby avoiding pumping water unncecessarily. Scottish Water’s energy demand is currently rising by one and two per cent each year. See www.scottishwater.co.uk/portal/page/portal/
4. Information on the new public bodies Climate Change Duties is at www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/climatechange/
5. The Wave - Scotland’s biggest ever demonstration in support of action on climate change – takes place in Glasgow on Saturday 5 December 2009, timed to coincide with the crucial UN climate summit in Copenhagen. Tens of thousands of people will gather in Glasgow and London. The Wave is organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland. www.stopclimatechaos.org/thewavescotland
6. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) is a diverse, growing coalition of organisations campaigning on climate change. The SCCS Coalition has 60 Scottish members, representing more than 2 million supporters (40% of the Scottish population), ranging from environment and development groups to faith organisations, trade unions, student societies, care providers and many more. SCCS was instrumental in securing a strong climate act for Scotland. For full details visit http://www.stopclimatechaos.org/scotland