Changes To Water Regulations In Scilly Could Cost Islanders

desalination plant signMoves to bring the Isles of Scilly under UK drinking water and sewerage regulations could have cost implications for islanders.

In a report that went before the General Purposes Committee last week, Director of Place Craig Dryden said the Council could face a bill for improving sewerage discharge on St Mary’s, while business face charges for water extraction and sewerage discharge.

That could include the Duchy of Cornwall, who maintain the supply on St Agnes and St Martin’s, and Tresco Estate.

Domestic properties might also have to pay if they’re close to Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

“The world is catching up on us now ” said Craig.

The situation has come about because the islands had used the “Scilly Clause” to opt out of the existing legislation over many years.

But European law now trumps that, and there’s no opt-out for the islands. It means the Government could face heavy fines if Scilly doesn’t comply.

“We’ve effectively become a boil on David Cameron’s backside,” said Committee Chairman Cllr Steve Sims.

The changes, due to be enacted in Parliament this year, mean that the Environment Agency will have full regulatory powers over drinking water, sewerage and waste in Scilly, while the Drinking Water Inspectorate will monitor water quality.

To assess the full impact of the new legislation, Craig asked the committee to approve a budget of £100,000 to get expert advice.

He says they need to get a better understanding of the gaps in our infrastructure and that could be used to provide a business case to get more funding from Defra.

They’ve already provided around £4m for water improvements on Bryher and St Mary’s, including a new desalination plant and refurbishment of the Buzza reservoir.

But Craig says the £1m provided for sewerage work in Hugh Town isn’t likely to be enough to address the issues.

Cllr Richard McCarthy said the necessary work across the islands was “not going to be cheap” but he felt they had a strong case for getting extra finance from the Government.