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Petition calling for the Senedd to have control over Wales’ water signed by over 2,500 in just a few hours

25 Aug 2022 8 minute read
Craig Goch Reservoir Dam, Elan Valley. Picture by Adrian Farwell. (CC BY 3.0)

A petition calling for the Senedd to have full control over Wales’ natural resources, including its water, has been signed by over 2,500 people in a few hours.

The petition started on Thursday by one of YesCymru’s directors, Nerys Jenkins, responds to the news that work to transfer Wales’ water to England’s drough-hit south has already begun.

The petition accuses those involved of “syphoning away our most valuable resource” without any benefit to Wales’ communities.

The petition claims that Wales’ present export of water to England, from the Elan Valley to Birmingham and from Lake Vyrnwy and Tryweryn to Liverpool, could be worth as much as £4.5 billion a year.

On Sunday the Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission said “work has already begun” to transfer water from Wales to drought-hit areas of England.

Sir John Armitt, speaking on The Briefing Room on Radio 4, said that water companies in England did not want to invest in reservoirs and that they were unpopular with communities that did not want to see their land flooded.

Instead, he said, Severn Trent and Thames Water were in talks to transfer water from Wales to the south of England, starting at Lake Vyrnwy and being transferred through pipes or a canal to the Thames basin.

Urging people to sign the petition, Nerys Jenkins said: “Work has already begun to transfer water from Wales to drought-hit areas of England, according to the Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission.

“Water is a valuable commodity and this is another example of London syphoning away our most valuable resource without any consultation or benefit to our communities.

“Wales is rich in natural resources and we cannot continue to allow our future and our wealth to be taken from us. All natural resources must benefit us the people who live in Wales.”

‘Oil of Wales’

Yesterday a university professor said that water could be considered the “oil of Wales” in the future if plans to transport water to drought-stricken parts of England go ahead.

Professor Roger Falconer from Cardiff University told Newyddion S4C that England should “pay for the water”, with the revenue being invested back into local communities in Wales.

He added that with water supplies in England under “severe pressure” Wales could look to increasing the size of its reservoir in the Elan Valley and transferring the extra water captured there through the Wye or Severn rivers and through canals to the upper Thames.

Speaking to S4C News he said it was “a good opportunity in many ways”.

“We would supply directly under drought conditions to the south east of England and I would see this as the oil of Wales for the future in terms of revenue,” he said.

Thames Water have confirmed that they are “consulting” on plans to transfer water from reservoirs owned by United Utilities in Wales. United Utilities said that the plans would not impact on the amount of water available to existing customers.

‘Transfer’

Speaking on Sunday, the Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission John Armitt had said that companies were looking at having “more water in the supply side by building more reservoir capacity, or in addition, providing water transfer scheme so you transport water from where you’ve got a surplus in the country to the areas where you are likely to have a shortage”.

Reservoirs were he said “the most capital intensive thing that you can invest in. So we’ve got the natural reluctance, I guess, of the private companies to lay out shedloads the capital to build new reservoirs, and no great pressure on them, to be frank from the regulator to build new reservoir capacity.”

“And of course, everyone knowing that as soon as you propose a large new reservoir, you are going to run into local resistance from the local population who won’t want to see two or three square miles or potentially maybe four square miles of agricultural land devoted to a new reservoir.”

David Aaronovitch interjected to say: “Or as in the case of Wales back in the day, whole villages.”

Sir John Armitt added: “Well, indeed, and of course one of the biggest in Wales is Lake Vyrnwy, which would be the potential source in a water transfer scheme.

“Essentially, you are transferring water from one river basin to another so you’d be transferring it from Wales. And work has already started on this between Severn Trent and Thames Water.

“So Severn Trent control lake Verwey in mid Wales. And Thames [Water] control the Thames basin, and the plan that they have is to shift water.

“And it could be as much as three to 500 million litres a day between those two catchment areas when you do it through a series of pipework or you could do it through the canal system.”

‘Inter-regional water transfers’

John Armitt’s comments come after GMB London and senior Conservatives suggested pumping the water from Lake Vyrnwy in Powys to the south-east of England to help deal with the drought there.

According to the Daily Mail earlier this week, senior Conservatives are now pushing the idea again after parts of England were declared to be officially in drought.

“Senior Tories yesterday said the current droughts meant it was time to review the plan,” Brendan Carlin, the newspaper’s political reporter said.

They quoted a spokesman for the environment department Defra who said that “inter-regional water transfers can play an important role in moving water from areas of the country with plentiful supplies to those with high demand”.

The water would be shipped from the south of Scotland as well as the north of Wales as these areas receive significantly more rainfall than parts of England, “to create a giant ‘natural water grid’ across the UK”.

Any such plan would however likely be particularly controversial in Wales where previous projects to supply England with water, particularly the drowning of Capel Celyn and Llawddyn, ignited political opposition.

Independence movement YesCymru have campaigned on the issue, calling for Wales to receive compensation in return for the 243bn litres of water a year extracted.

‘Workable’

The GMB London plan would see water pumped from Wales to the Cotswold canals and down the Sapperton Canal Tunnel in Gloucester.

Mark Holland, GMB London Regional Organiser for the water industry, said: “Thames Water should accept the water being offered by United Utilities from Lake Vyrnwy and get it to the Thames via the restoration of the Cotswold canals and Sapperton tunnel.

“This plan was covered in the Thames Water 2019 draft plan for water supply for London in the 21st century but is not included in the current list of things Thames Water plan to do.

“Instead of this very workable plan one of the things Thames Water is planning to rely on is the hope of consumers cutting daily consumption from 145 litres to 125 litres.”

‘Financial problems’

Plaid Cymru responded to plans for a canal earlier this week by saying that Wales must be paid more than a “pittance” for its water.

Plaid Cymru leader in Powys, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan, said that Wales was paid very little for its “valuable” water while CEOs at water companies were paid massive salaries.

“You pay a pittance for what is already taken, merely 3p a tonne or 1,000 litres,” he said. “Yet water industry bosses are paid a fortune with reports that Thames Water bosses were awarded bonuses of £2.4m in 2020 and 2021 despite the company losing up to a quarter of all its water from leaks.

“Likewise build the long awaited new reservoir at Abingdon, a proposal which has been circulating since 2006 and restart the desalination plant to assist matters.

“The Gateway Water Treatment Works in Beckton, east London takes water from the Thames Estuary, treats it and makes drinking water. It was completed in 2010 to be used during dry weather events.

“It has the capacity to deliver up to 100 million litres of water a day – it has been used during dry spells to boost Thames Water’s reservoirs in London – yet has been switched off during the current hot spell!

“This further highlights the need for water to be seen as a valuable resource, a commodity and Wales is fortunate to have it, however, we cannot allow it to be taken and used by large corporations and fritted away whilst our communities get a pittance from it.

“Imagine the benefits to Powys if we merely got 1p a litre for it – the financial problems of our public services locally would be solved.”


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 month ago

They flood and pillage us at every opportunity, hollow out the ground for all of the coal and gold and then left Cymru to rot…they steal everything including our children’s futures…they even control the air above us, they allow criminal regimes to simulate war crimes above us, even whilst our children study…villages, churches, livelihoods,, ground sea and air, along come the Tories of The English Establishment System that was founded by butchers and robber barrons, the brigand rich, not even your own mind is safe from them. Locusts have more humanity, thieves more legitimacy…. …how much more shall we let… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
30 days ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

Benllech and Saundersfoot beach closed due to sewage discharged into the bathing waters on the big bank holiday of the summer…

Take out a class action and sue those responsible if this affects your livelihood…

Plenty of lawyers with time to spare…

Andy Collings
Andy Collings
1 month ago

It just makes sense. Natural resources aren’t there for rich people to get richer.
They’re to provide the nation with support for communities and security.
Sign the petition of you agree with that.

DAI Ponty
DAI Ponty
1 month ago

Not just Water everything rule our own country get out of the corrupt cesspit called the U K

Marc
Marc
1 month ago

How about some of the enormous wealth created by the banking and finance industry of London flow in the opposite direction

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Marc

No chance. Their motto is to keep the Welsh hungry and keen to work for peanuts.

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago
Reply to  Marc

Yeah we don’t need laundered Russian Oligarch’s wealth. Simply report OUR profits IN CYMRU not in London

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

I signed this yesterday and I urge everyone to sign it. Though if 30,000 signatures couldn’t prevent a bridge being named, sadly, I doubt a water petition will change anything. What is needed is independence and complete control of our water.

Maglocunos
Maglocunos
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

And our bridges!

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

And our own destinies

Ioan Williams
Ioan Williams
30 days ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

And the profits from our own land e.g coastal profits>>>> crown estate. The injustice is incomparable and the most underrated and underreported, continued, historic manipulation of a people worldwide. When will we as Cymry wake up to the realisation that we can thrive under our own rule?

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

What “natural resources”? All of Wales’ natural resources were robbed from us under our noses a long time ago. Everybody, but the Welsh, became rich.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

If any Welsh person in their right mind doesn’t sign this petition should be ashamed of themselves. And It’s not that I or others want deny anyone in England our water. On the contrary. All I & others want is Wales democratic right to control & finacially benefit from its our own natural resource rather than see private water companies & shareholders not answerable to Wales make billions at our expense. All I can add is this. Would you as English people accept Wales doing similar to England.? I think not.

#YesCymru 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿. #DŵrCymru 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🌊

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

What we see coming from England, is blatant hypocrisy. Vote leave to take control, that is fine, but when we want control of what is on our soil, we are racist, seperatist, anti English bigots. We are only asking g as you point out, to benefit from what is already here, we are not taking from anybody, or denying anybody, we just want some chwarae teg, to improve our lot.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Yes, the very same hypocrites who cried foul of Europe want to dictate our terms & conditions. Makes me sick.

Maglocunos
Maglocunos
1 month ago

Oil??

Water is going to be more precious than gold. Wales must act to gain control of our natural resources, and not continue to be pillaged by our neighbours across the dyke.

.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 month ago
Reply to  Maglocunos

If the same folk who run the water companies in England are to be tasked with implementing this idea, I suspect that most of the water they steal will leak away before it reaches consumers. After all they do have plenty of form on that practice. Perhaps we need Owain Glyn Dŵr to come back and encourage the leakage before the water actually gets to the border.

Paul townsend
Paul townsend
30 days ago

For God’s sake what is wrong with you people ? England are our nearest neighbour who at time they need help , we the Welsh are well known for our generosity in times of need , what would you say if the English started a petition to stop finance coming to Wales? Yeah it seems petty but that’s exactly how your acting we are an island and it makes no difference where the water comes from if it helps other areas of the United Kingdom and that’s what we are United….we’ll some of us …

Kurt Constable
Kurt Constable
30 days ago
Reply to  Paul townsend

United, don’t make me laugh. Only England mandates Tories and they refuse to build onshore wind farms leading to the now huge hikes in price. Time to protect ourselves first, generosity stops when our needs are greater. Our water is a huge Welsh reserve, not to be cherry picked by others when they flood our valleys and take for free.

CapM
CapM
30 days ago
Reply to  Paul townsend

Thankfully the collective mentality of thinking our natural resources exist for the benefit of our nearest neighbour and their provision to our nearest neighbour as our bounden duty and source of self congratulation is wilting fast.

I don’t think anyone in Cymru expects the Garden of England to supply them with free fruit and veg but for some nonsensical reason there are a few in Cymru who think we should provide that garden with free water.

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