Since the RSPB at Minsmere at Stage 2 consultation raised water level issues from the huge proposed project, the issue has come to notice again because Therese Coffey MP, the Environment Minister responsible for water, OFWAT the regulator and the European Water Framework Directive has launched a pilot scheme for new water abstraction arrangements. Four areas have been chosen, her own Suffolk Costal constituency having issues already for farmers because water use is rising in East Anglia generally, creating worries for farmers who use only a small per -centage of abstracted water compared to the public and, significantly, the energy industry. These two are "essential users" but farmers are not. The pilot scheme is aimed at encouraging farmers to store water in the winter and then be abel to sell it when its in short supply. The Government wants to end the existing licensing scheme and integrate it with environmental permitting.
What's interesting is hiw thius fits with the huge Sizewell C project. EDF's Stage 1 Report has some mention of water, but not quantities for the massive concrete demands of building the reactors, setting up site, housing a direct and indirect workforce on a scale maybe twice the size of Leiston's population. And over a likely ten or more year period. EDF Stage 2 Report says not much more. Facts are, however, that Anglian Water takes 50% of its water supplies from groundwater, and EDF is apparently going to rely on bore holes into the same acquifers. As we said, energy companies are essential users, so no winder the National Farmers Union and the East Suffolk Water Abstractors Group are being "consulted". Then what about OFWAT, who for Sizewell C consultation purposes are statutory consultees along with Anglian Water. As far as we know, neither said nothing much when the "Scoping Report" was done at the start of the Sizewell C project to decide the issues. Further, it is generally understood, in our view wrongly, that the public have nt voice in these professional matters.
Meanwhjile the very successful Anglian Water company is preparing a new 5 year plan, so we will see if they have anything to say. They have also published a 25 year vision, and in 2015 did a 50 year report, and has recently won a big prize for being the Responsible Company of the Year, putting "nature at the heart of its vision". East Anglia is challenged at infrastructure levels of road, water and public services by more people and same water supplies (Anglian 15.7.17). Households have grown by 27% in East Anglia since 1989, and another I million people are expected by 2040.
Readers/bloggers curious about the background might look at (1) a report for the East Suffolk SWater Abstractors Group from 2014, drawing on Cranfield University expertise: national data show a 1.4% annua decline in abstraction, while East Suffolk forecasts a 2.3% growth over the next 15 years. (2) surface water levels, a history of the interface of the Sizewell marshes and Minsmere area with the sea, and the complex story of the historic sluice in a pamphlet by Rea Price & Robb called The Draining if the Minsmere Levels, 2015, available from Eastbridge pub. (3) for further attention, yet another water based government pilot scheme with Sizewell C (and B and the A remains, of course) at its heart. The Anglian (3.2.18) reports that the Suffolk Coast is one of only two new Marine Pioneer Projects, looking at coastal flooding and the health and quality of the marine environment in regard to he needs of "the community, business and society". It will take a "natural capital" approach, and is part of the recently announced Government 25 year environment plan ( see below). We will investigate further.