“Not one extra drop” of power over water has come to Wales – six years after it was promised

Plaid Cymru has demanded the “immediate” devolution of control over all water in Wales – something that was promised six years ago but is still being blocked by Westminster the Welsh Government has confirmed.

The Leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price MS is expected to raise the matter with Mark Drakeford in his Questions to the First Minister, later today (Tuesday 28 March) in the Senedd, where he will ask what pressure he intends to bring to force Westminster to fulfil their broken promise.

Wales is the only country in the UK denied the right to legislate on all the water within its borders. The Welsh Government currently can only regulate water companies wholly or mainly in Wales – which excludes Severn Trent Water and United Utilities that are planning to transfer an extra 180 million litres a day from Wales to the south east of England.  This proposal which the Guardian has dubbed “the new HS2”is only a few days away from being greenlighted by OFWAT in the next stage of its project approval process. 

The Welsh Government has also confirmed it doesn’t have the power to change the current low price paid by Severn Trent Water for extracting up to 360 million litres a day from Cwm Elan under an agreement from the 1980s. No such restrictions are imposed on Severn Trent, who are allowed to profit from the Welsh water they sell on to other customers.

Leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price MS said,

“Six years after the devolution of power over water was promised, not one drop of extra power has passed to Wales, because Westminster has blocked it.

“Welsh natural resources should be in Welsh hands – controlled by Wales for the benefit of our communities. Instead we have a farcical system whereby we are not allowed to adjust the price at which we sell water to England, but their water companies are allowed to reap enormous profits as they sell our water onwards.

“We have mere days before the OFWAT announcement on the Severn to Thames water project is due, which could see the approval of another 180 million litres a day being extracted from Wales.

“It’s imperative that power over water is devolved to Wales immediately. It is totally unacceptable that Welsh families who pay among the highest water bills in the UK will yet again lose out as we watch the profits from the onward sale of our precious water resources line the pockets of the private water companies, rather than benefit the communities from which it is taken.”