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Water Efficiency

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why the Government have ruled out mandatory testing of new build residential accommodation for water efficiency targets. (95780)

Defra and the Department for Communities and Local Government have been looking at ways of improving water efficiency in buildings. We are considering a number of proposals on water efficiency in new and existing homes, and on the domestic uses of water in non-household property. No decisions have yet been made, and we intend to hold a full public consultation on the content of any regulation proposed. This process will begin before the end of the year, and decisions will be made early in 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures the Government have in place to ensure efficient use of water supply; and how it is liaising with (a) the water companies, (b) Ofwat and (c) the Environment Agency to see such measures implemented. (95781)

Under the Water Industry Act 1991, water companies in England and Wales have a duty to promote the efficient use of water by their customers. The extent of the measures that water companies undertake to promote water efficiency varies according to their water resource position. I expect water companies in water stressed areas to have a more comprehensive programme of measures.

In October 2005, the Government established the Water Saving Group, which I chair. It brings together key water industry stakeholders including water companies, Ofwat and the Environment Agency, to promote the efficient use of water in households. The group has a comprehensive action plan to deliver in a two year period. It includes work on measuring success, including looking at .possible targets and benchmarks, research into customers’ perceptions of (and attitudes to) water use, the policy and regulatory framework, developing incentives for water efficiency and identifying and addressing gaps in the knowledge base.

The Government announced in March 2006, following the end of the consultation on the Code for Sustainable Homes, that it was planning to introduce mandatory minimum standards for water efficiency. A joint Defra and Department for Communities and Local Government project is developing proposals for new homes, existing buildings and domestic uses of non-household buildings. The proposals will be the subject of consultation by the end of the year.

The Government also supports a number of programmes to further sustainable water use by businesses, such as Envirowise and the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme for water efficient technologies.