MEP to meet Thames Water chief as part of HTA drive against bans

The HTA's publicity campaign against hosepipe bans gathers steam with politician to raise issue with Thames Water.

Thames Gateway MEP Syed Kamall will meet Thames Water chief executive Jeremy Pelczer next week in the next stage of the HTA’s campaign against water industry bans. The HTA and NFU have swamped the media this week with their claim that the bans from Thames Water, Folkestone & Dover Water Services and Mid Kent Water are a “publicity stunt” and could cost the industry millions. Kamall said: “It’s not acceptable that people wanting to water their gardens should be put to such inconvenience. Nor is it right that the gardening industry should shoulder the entire burden.” The HTA highlighted inconsistencies in the bans, which allow garden swimming pools to be filled but not the topping up of planted pots. It said water firms are spreading “dangerous misinformation” because they want to divert attention away from their inefficiencies. The HTA now wants to amend the law on water use. HTA director general David Gwyther said: “We don’t generally run these campaigns but these things need to be said. Our industry is being attacked by water companies who need to understand that we’re not just going to roll over and let them get away with it.” He said just 0.4 per cent of water used in the UK is through hosepipes compared to five per cent wasted through leaks. “The water industry needs to put its own house in order. The hosepipe ban is not as it sounds. Their misinformation could have a very serious effect on the £2bn horticultural stock industry, particularly after two and a half bad seasons. A responsible board of directors would invest substantially in fixing pipes and if that meant a dividend reduction then so be it. It’s not clever to lose five per cent of the nation’s water, raise prices and attack the garden industry.” He said evidence is growing that the public will not buy plants because of hosepipe bans. Turf growers say they are expecting a £16m loss of profits in the next two months. Thames Water representative Hilary Bennett said the company is not issuing misleading information but acting within the 1991 Water Resources Act by prohibiting watering of gardens and private vehicle washing with hosepipes. She added that Thames spends £500,000 a day fixing leaks and is a quarter-way through its goal of replacing 1,609km of mains between 2005-10. She recognised leakage is “unacceptable”, particularly in London where OFWAT targets have not been met.

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