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Demands for Scottish Water to increase investment programme

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October 15 2004

Glasgow City Council has been forced to give £3.5 million to Scottish Water to finance basic water and sewerage work in the city’s East End after Scottish Water said it was unable to connect a number of new developments to the sewerage system without some financial help.

Following the agreement, Charles Gordon, the Council Leader, went on the record to say that the financial structure of Scottish Water must be changed in order to allow for greater borrowing and a bigger programme of investment. “Scottish Water see regeneration as a nuisance while other utilities see it as a business opportunity,” said Gordon. The council is also concerned thatr it has no control over exactly how the extra money will be spent and Gordon is lobbying Scottish Ministers Ross Finnie and Tom McCabe to address the issue.

“It simply beggars belief that Ministers did not see fit to include any provision to meet development needs when the current investment programme was being prepared some years ago. The country now finds itself in a position where less than half of the land currently approved for housing can be built on,” said Bruce Black, Executive Director of Homes for Scotland, the organisation that represents companies building over 90% of the country’s new homes.

In Glasgow a number of developers have received letters from Scottish Water explaining that they can not support a planning application on the basis that the locall sewer does not have the capacity to deal with new developments. One source of growing conflict is the ambiguity about who picks up the bill for work on brown field developments. Most developers believe that Scottish Water should be able to use the existing sewerage system to service the new development. However, Scottish Water argue that the capacity has often been taken over by other developments and are charging developers to connect to the system.

Scottish Water accepts that it is creating development constraints, but blames the “historic lack of investment” for the current problems. “We are not refusing to spend money to relieve development constraints. After a consultation process our current £1.8 billion capital investment programme – as agreed with the Executive and our regulators - was targeted at delivering better quality drinking water and cleaning up Scotland’s rivers beaches and coastall waters to meet legal standards. About £240 million of this will help to relieve development constraints,” said a spokesman for Scottish Water.

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