70 per cent water shortage 'a problem' for Central Bedfordshire's sustainability plans

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Central Bedfordshire Council's plans to be carbon neutral by 2030 have been roundly praised, with just one area for concern - water.

Independent Silsoe and Shillington councillor Alison Graham gave a thumbs up for the council's sustainability plan, which has “ambitious aims and clear processes”, she told the executive committee.

But she warned the south east is the driest part of England and that water shortages could pose a real problem for Central Bedfordshire.

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“Our own assessment, made some years ago, was of a 70 per cent water deficit in the next 20 years," she said.

Water shortages could be a problem for Central Bedfordshire; (inset) Cllr Alison GrahamWater shortages could be a problem for Central Bedfordshire; (inset) Cllr Alison Graham
Water shortages could be a problem for Central Bedfordshire; (inset) Cllr Alison Graham

“I’d just like to refer to Anglian Water’s 30-year plan... In the water company’s assessment of need by area, we are rated red."

CBC passed a climate action motion in July 2019 after what it described as “an extensive analysis of its own and the local area’s carbon footprints”.

It has invested in a tree planting programme, acquired electric vans for its highways fleet of vehicles, switched its energy suppliers to renewables and continued the roll-out of LED street lighting.

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Now, CBC is ready to adopt the new sustainability plan to fulfil its ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Councillor Graham was among several colleagues to praise the content of the document, with one notable omission - water - which was not among the six priority categories.

Speaking about the report, she added: “Under 'action' it’s very vague.

"It’s looking for defunct water courses, so we don’t have any action to be supported.

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“I propose this document should include a section specifically on water resilience, in collaboration with our water companies.”

Conservative Stotfold and Langford councillor Steve Dixon replied: “We share a similar passion about water, or the lack of it.

“This is a live document and it will evolve or develop. You make a fair point.

“We’ve got to work strategically with the water companies. If it doesn’t work because they’re not aligned, that’s not a way to go forward.”

Councillors subsequently approved the sustainability plan in a full council meeting on September 24.