Northern Powerhouse at risk due to water shortages

Without a reliable and sustainable supply of clean water, and effective and efficient wastewater systems, activity in the Northern Powerhouse could quickly grind to a halt.

That is the view of the IPPR North think tank, which warns that demand for water could outstrip supply by 2035 in parts of northern England, with a new report saying that the north could become water stressed due to recent reductions in rainfall and water flow alongside population increase, economic growth and shortcomings in water companies’ efforts to reduce leakage.

Because of this, the report says Northern Powerhouse projects could be at risk unless politicians plan ahead for the climate crisis.

The north accounts for 41 per cent of all water abstracted across England, but it relies far more on surface water than elsewhere in the country. The likelihood of drought is projected to increase while average summer river flows may decrease because of annual rises in global heating, even though the risk of flooding is likely to increase in some northern areas.

The think tank recommends that water companies should be legally required to be part of any strategic planning processes and consultees on individual planning applications.

Jack Hunter, the author of the report and a research fellow at IPPR North, said: “This is a shared problem that requires shared solutions. Water companies need to deliver on their plans to dramatically reduce leakages, and households, businesses and political leaders all need to treat water much more responsibly in future.”