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 2022, Blueprint for Water responded to the consultation on Government's draft Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan. The plan has huge potential to drive action to tackle sewage pollution and improve the water environment. However, the current draft falls far short of this potential, failing to capture the severity and urgency of the water quality crisis. In our response, we set out why this is the case, and key recommendations for how the plan should be strengthened - including a requirement that 100% of Storm Overflows that cause harm and discharge in or near to priority sites should be improved by 2030. This follows our April 2022 parliamentary briefing on the plan, developed in partnership with the #EndSewagePollution coalition.
In April 2022, Blueprint for Water responded to the consultation on draft River Basin Management Plans. A transformational step change is needed if the plans are to bring our waters to Good Status; in our response, we set out where the plans fall short, and what actions are needed to raise the ambition and drive meaningful change. Blueprint Chair, Ali Morse, also set out our top lines in a blog.
In February 2022, Blueprint for Water shared their 'Top 10 Observations' on the draft Regional Water Resources Plans. This follows the publication of our 'Top 10 Asks' in July 2021, which set out our thoughts on what challenges the plans must address, including meeting the needs of the environment first, building resilience, and supporting the achievement of national water reduction targets. Our 'Top 10 Observations' review how well the draft plans meet these challenges, and set out areas we want to see greater ambition, ahead of the formal consultation this autumn.
In January 2022, Blueprint responded to the consultation on draft Flood Risk Management Plans. We set out key recommendations that all the plans should meet, including designing measures to deliver multiple benefits (in particular, for nature and biodiversity), ensuring the plans and measures are resilient to climate change, and delivering a strategic approach that ensures the best measures are delivered in the best places.
Following the release of Blueprint for Water's 'Environmental Manifesto for PR24' in September 2021, setting out what Government, regulators and water companies must do if PR24 is to deliver a step-change for people and nature, the group continues to engage in the PR24 process. In December 2021, Blueprint responded to Ofwat's consultation on performance commitments, and in October 2021, responded to the consultation on Government's Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat. We set out our reasons for why we believe that Government has not identified the most relevant strategic priorities, including a lack of mention of climate change adaptation and mitigation, and lack of ambition with regards to nature-based solutions and ecosystem resilience.
In November 2021, Blueprint for Water and Link's Agriculture Group developed a briefing on the Farming Rules for Water, setting out why these are an essential tool in the delivery of climate and nature objectives in England, and why relaxing them would hamper the development of a sustainable, resilient climate-safe farming sector. This follows Blueprint's previous response to the Defra Farming Rules for Water Regulatory Review in January 2021, in which 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 September 2021, Blueprint released the report 'Actions to Recover England's Waters and Wildlife'. This sets out our vision for the freshwater environment and our ‘how to’ strategy for bringing our freshwaters back to health, before it is too late, with recommendations under three key themes - Recover Biodiversity, Drive Down Pollution, and Re-think Our Relationship With Water. The group also responded to a range of consultations on the water industry, including the WINEP, the WISER.
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.
For further information, contact Ellie Ward, Link’s Policy and Information Coordinator.
Last updated: 18 May 2022
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