General Election 2015
With the general election next week people are fast asking the question, who will be leading the country over the coming five years? One thing is for certain, whoever succeeds in being elected will have the significant task ahead of them of maintaining our healthy rivers and seas, as well as ensuring a sustainable supply of water to the public. We take a look at each of the party's manifestos to reveal which have put water on their agenda. The information presented here is based on what the parties have stated in their manifestos.
Sadly there is very little focus on water efficiency in any of the parties manifestos.
After the floods that were experienced across the UK in 2014 it is not a surprise flood protection is deeply embedded into that almost all of the party’s manifestos.
Labour plan to introduced a new climate change "adaptation plan" and flood prevention will be prioritised.
Conservatives will be in support of the Thames Tideway Tunnel and plan to build 1,400 new flood defence schemes, to protect 300,000 homes.
The Green Party will prevent new building on flood plains, as well as pledge to give £1 billion a year to local authorities and the Environment Agency to spend on assisting communities with flood protection.
Liberal Democrats also plan to work with local government to review flood risk, in addition they will set up a commission to research natural flood prevention schemes, and also facilitate an increased uptake in Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems.
Under Labour’s reforms all water companies will be required to sign up to a new national affordability scheme, helping those who cannot afford to pay their water bill. They will also strengthen the powers of Ofwat to change licenses, limit price rises and enforce industry standards.
The Liberal Democrats will encourage the uptake of water metering, including introducing metering in all defined water-stressed areas by 2025, coupled with the development of national social tariffs to protect low-income households.
The Liberal Democrats will pass a Nature Act, to empower the NCC to set environmental targets, on water quality, such as a sustainable water abstraction regime, for the public, industry and the natural environment.
The Green Party will ensure that water management become part of the rules for farming subsidies. Through reform of the Common Agricultural Policy all farm payments will be designed to reduce flood risk, conserve wildlife, and improve water quality.
UKIP include water with only in regard to the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). They plan to leave the CFP and reinstate British territorial waters, in order to protect fish stocks and reduce environmental damage due to over fishing.
The Conservatives would like to reform the CFP to avoid discarding fish through the quota scheme and to devolve the management of North Sea fisheries to local communities. The will also create a ‘Blue Belt’ to protect marine habitats around the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories.
The Green Party also plan to expand the UK’s network of Marine Conservation Zones to protect marine species.They will also introduce new taxes on the use of water by businesses and on waste heat from power stations, raising £3 billion by 2020.
The Liberal Democrats plan to establish a Nature Bill, which would include establishing the formation of a 1 million square kilometre new marine and coastal reserve.
The Green Party is the only mainstream party in England that would prevent hydraulic fracturing. The Greens opposition is based on environmental concerns, such as groundwater pollution, as well as its opposition to fossil fuels in general.
Almost all parties, other than UKIP, emphasise the need to develop the UK's flood defences. Labour and the Liberal Democrats highlight the need to safeguard the poorest when it comes to paying for water. Both the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats would like to improve the quality of our rivers through policy reforms. All of the parties have shown interest in our seas; UKIP and the Conservatives with regard to CFP, and almost all on creating zones to protect marine species. Lastly, only the Green Party would oppose the use of fracking.
Water has definitely been intergrated into most of the party's manifestos, however water efficiency is notably absent. More promising is that in the manifestos the need to include water in climate change apdation and mitigation is clearer.