Anglian Water sets out ambitious plans to adapt to climate change

Posted: Wednesday 18th March 2020

Anglian Water has become the first company to set out how it is preparing for the impacts of climate change in Defra's latest round of adaptation reporting under the Climate Change Act.

The draft report, published for consultation, outlines the key risks the water company has identified, including physical risks from drought and flooding as well as risks to the region's natural capital. The report highlights the importance of working with other organisations and customers to make the East of England resilient to the impacts of drought and flooding. Anglian is the first of around 90 organisations in the UK to submit their report.

This is the company's first Adaptation Report to include a description of some of the climate transition risks that arise from the process of adjusting to a lower-carbon economy; in particular, the financial risk and opportunity associated with securing investment and managing its energy and carbon costs. This is one of the ways that the company is responding to increasing expectations for climate-related financial disclosures.

Anglian Water has already made significant strides on its journey towards becoming a carbon-neutral business. The report details the actions Anglian Water has already undertaken to adapt its operations to the changing climate and sets out its plans for substantial further investment over the next five years. These adaptation activities will be delivered alongside Anglian Water's commitment to become a net zero carbon business by 2030.

Anglian Water Chief Executive Peter Simpson said:

"Adapting to climate change, both to ensure resilient water supplies for the communities we serve, and to protect and enhance our environment, has been central to the way we do business for many years. Together with rapid population growth in our region, the climate emergency constitutes Anglian Water's most acute challenge.

"Since we last reported in 2015, we have invested in flood protection for our most vulnerable sites, led our industry in finding new ways to tackle leaks which threaten water supplies, and strengthened the resilience of our networks to both drought and flooding. We have responded well to severe weather events such as the ‘Beast from the East' and the 2018 summer heatwave. But the pace of climate change is accelerating. We know there is more we need to do.

Plans for the next five years include:

· More than £1.4 billion of investment in safeguarding water resources and the environment

· Creating up to 500km of interconnecting pipelines to enable the movement of water to areas where it is most needed. The programme will also make it possible to reduce the amount of water taken from the environment, as well as strengthening resilience by reducing the number of homes and businesses which rely on a single water source

· Reducing leakage, already the lowest in the UK, by a further 22% versus a 2017/18 baseline

· Beginning to roll out smart meters across our region to help customers manage demand and reduce bills, and to pinpoint leaks

· Continued investment in flood protection including through partnership projects with the Environment Agency, local councils, and internal drainage boards to achieve multiple benefits

· Continued investment in pioneering ‘Keep It Clear' programme to reduce fatberg blockages and sewer flooding, which has seen 84% reduction in blockages in areas targeted

· Volunteering to achieve net gains in biodiversity through our construction programme from 2020.

· Publish long-term strategic plans for Drainage and Wastewater Management and Water Resources Management, which will include assessments against the potential for 2°C and 4°C temperature rise scenarios

Peter continued: "This report sets out in detail the further actions we will take to address the risks from climate change and deliver sustainable adaptation action through innovation, collaboration and education. And while it can be tempting to think about the climate emergency solely in terms of risk, we also see adaptation as an opportunity. Adapting well to climate change will enable us to meet the ambitious goals we have set and deliver the commitments we have made to our customers in a way that keeps bills affordable.

"We are publishing this draft for consultation in the spirit of openness and collaboration, seeking to work with others to tackle our shared challenges. Working on narrow solutions for our own region, or even the water industry as a whole, won't drive the right outcomes. It's crucial that we take a cross-sector approach to minimise climate change risk - and to harness its opportunities."

The report is to be issued to a wide range of national and regional organisations to seek their views, as well as being put out to customer consultation via Anglian Water's online customer forum. Formal consultation responses are invited by 10 April.

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