It made front-page headlines yesterday when Baroness Young, the head of the Environment Agency, warned that we all face soaring water bills to pay for the deficiencies in "infrastructure" brought to light by the recent floods. As most of us are aware, water bills have already been soaring in recent years. But by far the greater part of that money, as I reported on May 13, has been spent, not on repairing pipes and drains, to avoid floods and provide us with extra water, but on complying with three over-the-top EU directives on water purification.
As the Government admitted to Lord Pearson of Rannoch, these directives have so far cost us no less than £65 billion, leaving the water companies with only £14 billion to spend on infrastructure. One could not, of course, expect Baroness Young to explain this. But for anyone genuinely wanting to know why our water infrastructure and flood defences are in such poor shape, this is where they might start looking.
And to add insult to injury...
Meanwhile, with that uncanny grasp of reality for which it is legendary, the EU has just produced yet another "strategy pape" on water. Published as large parts of England were becoming submerged, its purpose was to propose drastic measures to combat the "water scarcity and droughts" brought about by global warming. The proposed measures range from compulsory water metering to devices restricting the amount of water used in taps, showers and lavatory cisterns.
For fuck's sake, really, can we leave yet?