Gummer's water Bill

FORMER Environment Secretary John Gummer has received cross party support for his bid to force assessments of water availability before an area is developed for housing or industry. Suffolk Coastal's Conservative MP told the Commons his Housing and Commercial Development (Water Supply Assessment) Bill would require...

By Graham Dines

Political Editor

FORMER Environment Secretary John Gummer has received cross party support for his bid to force assessments of water availability before an area is developed for housing or industry.

Suffolk Coastal's Conservative MP told the Commons his Housing and Commercial Development (Water Supply Assessment) Bill would require companies and the Environment Agency to ensure there was enough water and sewerage services in an area before development went ahead.


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Among his backers are two Labour former environment ministers, Michael Meacher and Elliott Morley, as well as Liberal Democrat Andrew Stunell and Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams.

Mr Gummer, whose Ten Minute Rule Bill has little chance of becoming law, warned MPs: “I do not think it is possible to overestimate the state of our water supplies. Three local water companies are considering or asking for planning permission for desalination plants - in this country - which we thought were an unfortunate necessity in the Middle East and beyond”

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He said in south and central Britain standpipes were being threatened and yet there were plans to build four million new homes. The Government had to take the issue more seriously.

Mr Gummer predicted that water supply problems would put at serious risk Government plans for the Thames Gateway project in southern Essex and north Kent.

“I want to make sure that the seriousness of the current situation is brought home to the nation. To build without being able to provide water or sewerage facilities, often in areas that will also be plagued by flooding, is sheer folly.

“One of the thinks that many of my constituents do no understand is that we can have both droughts and floods in the present circumstances.

“We have a shortage of water and yet be plagued by a damaging excess of it. We must therefore start with the new homes, offices and factories being built.

“If we do not ask whether there is enough water for such homes, we only have ourselves to blame when such homes get constricted because of drought and water scarcity regulations.”

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