Scottish Water should have wider role in green energy

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Scottish Water should have increased flexibility to generate green energy, develop commercial opportunities and could take on additional functions under proposals set out today.

The Scottish Government’s proposals are contained in a consultation paper, ‘Building a Hydro Nation’, which examines how Scotland, in particular Scottish Water, as a publicly-owned utility, can better exploit its expertise, assets and Scotland’s water resources for the continuing benefit of water customers, the environment and the wider Scottish economy.

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

“Scottish Water, already a huge success story, has the potential to play a greater role in the development of a low carbon economy and grow from a successful utility to become a widely based, dynamic, world-leading water organisation, while remaining within public ownership.

“Since its creation, Scottish Water’s efficiency has improved at a quicker rate than any of the UK’s privatised water companies and average household water charges are now £15 lower this year than in England & Wales.

“Scotland has a world-leading emissions reduction target and is spearheading the transition to a low carbon future. A new era for the management and use of Scotland’s water builds on these actions.

“This consultation seeks views on the range of opportunities for Scottish Water to take on new activities – from converting redundant treatment works into recycling facilities to putting hydro electric schemes in redundant reservoirs; from upgrading sewage treatment plants to harvest biogas, to new wind power projects on its land.

“As Scottish Water develops its wider role, we remain committed to ensuring that average customer charges rise by less than inflation, giving the customer the benefits of public ownership through better service and lower bills. But recent debates which see Scottish Water as a utility to be sold or mutualised completely miss the point. In giving Scottish Water room to grow, within public ownership, we have the potential to create a great Scottish enterprise.”

Background:

The consultation paper, ‘Building a Hydro Nation’, can be viewed at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/335029

The consultation runs until March 3.

Founded in 2002, Scottish Water is the fourth largest water and waste water service provider in the UK and at #1 billion it is one of Scotland’s largest businesses by turnover. Scottish Water provides two billion litres of high quality drinking water every day and nearly one billion litres of waste water is taken away and treated before being returned to the rivers and seas.

Around 90 per cent of the volume of all the UK’s inland surface water is in Scotland. The water contained in Loch Ness alone (7,452,000,000 m3) is nearly twice that found in all the standing waters of England and Wales combined.

Scottish Water operates and maintains thousands of assets including:

* 70,000 acres of catchments around reservoirs
* 113 reservoirs and 45 lochs
* 47,000 kilometres of water pipes
* 50,000 kilometres of wastewater pipes
* 280 water treatment works, plus pumping stations, sludge treatment centres, reservoirs
* 1,938 waste water treatment works