‘SURFING COWBOYS’ URGE WATER INDUSTRY TO EMBRACE ‘GREEN’ IMPROVEMENTS ‘FOR A FEW PENNIES MORE’ AT LONDON ACTION.
Campaigners from Cornwall based NGO Surfers Against Sewage are heading to London on from the ‘Wild West’ for a showdown with the water industry at the Water 2004 annual conference on Thursday 18th March. They will call on the water industry to accept and go beyond the Secretary of State’s advice on environmental improvements required during the 2005-2010 Periodic Review.
The environment programme had been used by the water industry as the one to cut to take pressure off bills but in reality contributes little more than ‘A Few Pennies More’ a day to bills and delivers huge benefits to the nation from clean and safe water. In the South West Water region we know that a full environmental improvements programme would contribute less than 3 pence per day to bills over the 2005-2010 period – a small price to pay for a safer and cleaner water environment.
PHOTOCALL 9AM, 18th March 2004: Delegates from the water industry will be greeted by a ‘magnificent seven’ team of surfboard carrying, water pistol-toting cigar smoking, surf cowboys when they arrive at 9am for the Water 2004 Conference held at the Carlton Tower, Cadogan Place, London SW1X 9PY. The surf cowboys will arrive to Morricone’s ‘For A Few Dollars More’ soundtrack and give out ‘Wanted’ posters calling on the industry to take a ‘greener’ outlook.
Margaret Beckett the ‘Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ issued her principal guidance to the water industry last week on the level of investment water companies will have to make to secure key environmental improvements to water quality. The improvements were welcomed by SAS, but still fall short of a full environmental programme that could deliver up to an estimated £12 billion of benefits to the nation from having clean and safe water by the Environment Agency.
The Government’s guidance will as it stands create an increase in bills. SAS maintains that the Government should be looking to help customers in lower income regions with support to pay bills that they cannot afford to pay. We also call on the water companies to look at more sustainable methods of wastewater treatment that give customers value for money and provide a clean and safe water environment over the long term.
Richard Hardy, SAS Campaigns Director says: "The water industry has unsuccessfully highlighted the environment as ‘the one to cut’ to curb bills. In reality it adds little to bills and provides massive benefits. The industry must start to ‘think green’ to meet both pending water legislation and customer demands. A full environment programme won’t cost the earth and must be delivered before water companies give their shareholders the ‘fistful of dollars’ they have been receiving year on year".