WQ87692 (w) Tabled on 08/03/2023

What discussions has the Welsh Government had with water companies to discuss plans to transfer water from Wales to England?

Answered by Minister for Climate Change | Answered on 16/03/2023

The Welsh Government works closely with Wales’ water companies, regulators and other partners on a wide range of issues, including water resource management matters.

Any development that involves sourcing water from Wales must demonstrate economic, environmental and wider benefits for the people of Wales as well as ensuring there is enough water in future for those that need it. Water companies wholly or mainly in Wales must follow Welsh Government’s guiding principles and Welsh Ministers have a statutory role in the sign off process for any plans.

Any proposals that affect Wales will have regard to Wales’ interests and needs, in particular, ensuring sustainable management of its natural resources, and delivery of Welsh legislation and policy requirements, including how the proposals support the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as well as addressing the climate and nature emergencies.

The water companies have a statutory duty to provide a secure supply of water. Water Resource Management Plans (WRMPs) show how companies will meet sustainable water demand over the next 25 years. Water companies must consider all options, including demand management and any water resources infrastructure.

Ofwat, Natural Resources Wales and the Environment Agency issue joint guidance and planning principles setting out our expectations which includes for any proposal for a new (or modification to an existing) water transfer agreement, assessment of the following is required:

  • The needs of and benefits to those who live and work in Wales, including economic, community and environmental needs and priorities.
  • Statutory decarbonisation targets for Wales.
  • Climate impact risks.
  • The risk of deteriorating water body status (set through the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2017); risk of causing any adverse effects to designated habitat sites; risk of preventing biodiversity and resilience of ecosystems.
  • Sufficiency of water for current and future users, allowing for growth and development.

If any water trading options are considered in WRMPs the Welsh Government will work with NRW and the companies to ensure water resources are managed and used sustainably and that any potential water trades safeguard public water supply, other water users and the environment in Wales. WRMPs will be submitted for consideration later in the year.