We're committed to playing our part in responding to the challenges of climate change through adaptation and mitigation.
In some cases, new regulations don't balance the need for higher quality standards with the potential carbon impact of delivering these standards. Better alignment of regulators and Government is essential if we're to deliver stretching carbon goals.
We're governed by Local Authorities and Public Health England on this issue. It is up to each local authority to conduct consultations on proposals of new fluoridation schemes. If local authorities carry out proper public consultation and can prove the public supports such a move, they can ask Public Health England to direct their local water company to fluoridate.
Any fluoride that is present in the water is naturally occurring. Go to our post code look up to check the fluoride levels in your water - click here
Although we don’t have control over whether fracking takes place in the region we are a statutory consultee on planning applications for onshore shale gas extraction.
This means we carefully consider and comment on all shale gas planning applications to make sure that where fracking does occur, it has no impact on water supplies. We cannot emphasise enough how absolutely vital it is to us that customers enjoy the safest drinking water at all times.
Our current assessment is that the risks to water supply from shale gas production are acceptable, provided they are properly identified and lead to appropriate risk mitigation.
We want to reassure our customers that we have rigorous processes in place to keep our water supply safe. We monitor the quality of Yorkshire’s water around the clock. We use online technology to continuously monitor water from each of our water treatment works for key parameters, taking regular samples to ensure the water meets our very high standards. We take regular samples from our service reservoirs, where treated water is stored before it is piped into supply, and directly from customers’ taps. Using advanced laboratory techniques, almost 450,000 tests were carried out in 2016 together with many more operational checks.
If more companies apply for permission to produce shale gas by hydraulic fracturing we will review each application on a case by case basis.
For information about our position on treating waste water from fracking please see here.
Since the floods of 2007 we have played an active role in developing a multi-agency approach to water management planning and flood emergency response in partnership with regional local authorities and with the Environment Agency in our region. We feel this multi-agency approach is the best way to deliver improved flood protection and management for the future and we welcome this model now being enshrined in law in the Flood and Water Management Act.
As we expressed during the passage of the Flood and Water Management Bill through Parliament, we feel that water companies have an even greater role to play in surface water management. We feel that opportunities have been missed to give water companies greater responsibilities that would ensure that we have a complete understanding and control of our networks. We remain convinced that water companies would be best placed to own and manage SUDS given the significant interdependence with the sewerage network. Likewise, we feel that the missed opportunity to remove the automatic right to connect to the sewerage network will mean that we water companies remain handicapped in terms of the risk of overloaded sewers.
Given the concerns raised by local authorities about lack of funding for their new responsibilities we are interested to see how this plays out. We remain committed to the multi-agency approach and we look forward to continuing and expanding on the important partnership work that is already established in Yorkshire with local authorities and the Environment Agency.
We have spent many years working in partnership with a range of different organisations to improve the health and biodiveristy of the uplands in Yorkshire. We have made some excellent progress through this multi-stakeholder approach and our decision to sign up to Natural England’s Hen Harrier recovery plan was a continuation of this collaborative approach. We want to see more Hen Harriers on our land and experience has taught us that working with others is the best way to make progress.
However, we do recognise that the plan has some controversial elements, particularly the proposal around brood management. Therefore, we have sought assurances from Natural England that the decision around whether a nest will be managed in this way will be for us to make as the landowner in consultation with others with an interest in the management of the land. With this in mind, our position is that whilst we are signed up to the plan, we will not support brood management either to remove Hen Harriers from our land, or to receive them from other sites until we have assessed each proposal on a case by case basis in consultation with stakeholders and have been completely satisfied that all other alternatives have been completely exhausted.
Yorkshire Water is one of the largest landowners in Yorkshire. We own approximately 28,000 hectares of land, much of which is used to collect the raw water we treat for drinking. Some land is also tenanted by farmers, with other areas being used for recreation by our customers.
The variety of challenges that we face in managing our land means we need to work closely with a wide range of stakeholders. It is important that we work with everyone that has an interest in and impacts on the land to ensure that we protect and enhance it, and the biodiversity it supports.
In recent years, we have been working with a wide range of stakeholders, including environmental organisations, statutory agencies, tenant farmers and the owners of the shooting rights which cover parts of our land, to tackle a range of water quality issues such as peatland restoration, pesticides, nitrates and saline intrusion. This collaborative approach has made great progress and has provided a model for us to replicate on other issues.
As part of our commitment to restoring and enhancing the biodiversity that our land supports, we want to see more hen harriers on our land.
In 2016 Natural England asked us to support the trial of their six-point Hen Harrier recovery plan which proposes:
•Monitoring of Hen Harrier numbers in England and the UK via satellite tagging and tracking.
•Sharing best practice with land managers and gamekeepers, encouraging the provision of food for birds of prey.
•Working closely with the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) to analyse intelligence on persecution and deliver more effective enforcement and deterrence measures.
•Monitoring and protect nests and winter roosts from disturbance and destruction
•Working with landowners to reintroduce Hen Harriers to suitable areas in the South of England.
•Scoping out feasibility for trialing brood management.
We agreed to sign up to the trial on the basis that as one of Yorkshire's largest landowners we had a role to play in increasing hen harrier numbers in the region, and in order for our land to be a recipient site for hen harriers, our land needed to be included in the licence area.
Our intention in signing up to Natural England’s six point plan was to increase the number of hen harriers on our land, not to support any removal from our sites. Therefore, before signing up to the plan we sought further explanation from Natural England to clarify concerns around the last of the six points – ‘to scope out feasibility for trialing brood management’.
The explanation we received was that a group, chaired by Natural England, was currently working up a licence application for this trial and that the proposal is that all nests in the English uplands – where the land is included within the geographical scope of the licence – could contribute to the density figure but that landowners will make the decision as to whether they wish a particular nest to be brood managed in this way.
Currently hen harrier numbers are low and do not meet the density threshold at which brood management can be considered under Natural England’s plan. Until hen harrier numbers have substantially recovered and have reached the threshold there can be no brood management under the plan. If numbers recover sufficiently and the density figure is reached we will then assess the best approach to the next phase of conservation action. At this point, we will consult with stakeholders to determine the best approach on a case by case basis. We will only consider supporting brood management (either to move hen harriers from our land, or to act as a recipient site) if we are satisfied that all other alternatives (such as diversionary feeding) have been completely exhausted.
As the proposal develops we will continue to work with stakeholders to understand the potential impact of this and to ensure that our involvement will contribute positively to hen harrier numbers in Yorkshire. Our experience of working on other issues, such as peatland restoration and pesticides, shows us that a multi-stakeholder approach like this is more likely to be effective in achieving the environmental outcomes that we are committed to.