AG are currently supporting water resources South East to make the region more resilient and sustainable

Following Addleshaws success in Southern Water South Hampshire public enquiry, AG have advised water undertakes, regional water resource groups, industry groups and non-water sector third parties on voluntary and mandatory sustainable abstraction reductions and licence changes including abstractions being reviewed within and outside the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP).

One such client that AG are currently advising is Water Resources South East (WRSE). 

Water Resources South East is a collaboration of the six water companies in the South East of England: Thames Water Utilities Limited, Southern Water Services Limited, South East Water Limited, Portsmouth Water Limited, Sutton and East Surry Water PLC and Affinity Water Limited. 

Their aim is to make the region more resilient and sustainable. Not an easy challenge considering: 

  • Over a quarter of the South East is a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty while National Parks make up 8% of the region. It is also home to eight key rivers which support dozens of smaller tributaries and streams, including rare and iconic chalk streams. 
  • The region is home to approximately 19 million people and the number of people living in the South East is on the rise. 
  • The region (which includes London) makes up 37% of the national economy. Supplying residents, businesses and tourists means water demand can total up to 6 billion litres of drinking water a day. 
  • Longer term the South East is expected to account for around 50% of the UK's future need for public water supplies alone meaning the region will need to find at least an extra 1 billion litres a day to keep up demand over the next 30 years. 
  • Most of the South East is designated as being in serious water stress by the Environment Agency. More than half of the region's water (up to 85% in some places) comes from underground aquifers relying on rainfall which is hugely impacted by and has variable patterns due to climate change.
  • The region typically experiences more droughts than any other region in the UK. On a hot day, an extra billion litres (or 20% more) can be supplied around the South East but drought interventions are still needed when rainfall is significantly down with a risk that even more severe restrictions might be needed in the future. The National Infrastructure Commission estimates the economic cost alone of imposing severe restrictions at around £1.3 billion per day to the economy, with further impacts to wider society and the environment. 

AG is currently providing advice to WRSE on a number of aspects of their regional resilience plan including importantly the discussions around setting the environmental destination and level of ambition that the regional plans will plan for. 

Environmental destination is the current terminology used by the Environment Agency for voluntary environmental ambition which heavily relies on voluntary abstraction reductions. 

The regional plans will not only cover the strategic resource options for that region (linked to RAPID's gated process and business planning) but will transcend into each of the water companies own water resource management plans. This will determine which options will offer best value for customers, society and the environment.

Here's what our client has to say: 

"AG has already helped us overcome many challenges. They don't just give advice that sets out the law. They give well-considered opinion and recommended ways forward. AG's advices have supported important debate in our regional and national forums at a critical time for the planning and implementation of water resource schemes. 

They understand the statutory need to maintain wholesome water supplies, our genuine water scarcity risks and the drive for greater environmental protections. They understand the regulation, the policy, and the delivery mechanisms that challenge and enable us to set and deliver our environmental destination for the region. 

They are knowledgeable, incredibly reliable, innovative and progressive and I'm incredibly pleased to have them alongside us."

Meyrick Gough, Technical Director, WRSE