New Water Legislation Will Have ‘Significant Impacts’ On Islanders

st agnes water tankProposed changes to the legislation covering Scilly’s water supply and sewerage will have “significant impacts” on businesses and residents.

That’s what Council Chief Executive Theo Leijser told a meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday.

He asked members to support a proposal to bring together key stakeholders and the wider community to provide a “robust response” to the Government’s consultation, which was launched on the 20th November.

Many of the current environmental and water laws in England, such as the Water Industry, Water Resources and Environment Acts don’t apply to the islands.

Defra intends to bring Scilly in-line with these laws.

But already problems are becoming apparent. For example, the legislation would make the Council responsible for ensuring the quality of our drinking water. But there’s a conflict of interest as it’s also currently the supplier on St Mary’s and Bryher.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough said the changes are going to cost a lot of money and we’ll need a large grant to implement the proposals.

And he’s worried about the supply being handed over to a private water company.

Council Chairman Amanda Martin said it’s “absolutely crucial that whole community step up on this one. Our role is to make sure they’re informed.”

But councillors seemed confused about the best way to do that.

The meeting first suggested forming a group to drive this forward, then suggested that the Waste and Water Charges group handle it.

They finally settled on letting the General Purposes Committee come up with a strategy, although Cllr Colin Daly pointed out that it only meets three times a year.

There’ll now be an extra sitting of the committee in January to discuss the issues.

But Cllr Richard McCarthy pointed out that it will be difficult to get the message across to islanders.

He said the documentation on the Defra website runs to 74 pages, and this needs to be made into something that people can understand “in one syllable” if they’re going to get islanders on their side.

Cllr Steve Sims highlighted the Council’s bad track record with Defra over recent public consultations. “We need to do it properly,” he said.

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