Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News Shorts & Other Busyness

Water Waste

Squall 8, Autumn 1994, pg. 9.

PRIVATISATION of Britain’s public assets is leading to increasing unaccountability, as foretold by many observers.

Welsh Water, Britain’s second most expensive water company, is planning to diversify from its water supply business into Britain’s road-building programme. Welsh Water has been heavily criticized after being named as a member of a consortium set up to bid to build privately-financed toll roads.

The consortium includes John Laing and Tarmac construction groups as well as French toll road operator, Transroute. All are bidding under the name ’UK Highways pic' for the first four schemes announced by the DoT early in August. (See Private Roads Go Ahead, page 6)

Ron Davis, the shadow Welsh Secretary, condemned the move: “None of the company's customers had a say. If the venture fails, no doubt they will be called in to pick up the bill.”

Over a million Welsh householders contribute about £100 a year each, just under half their average bill, to the company’s £146 million profits. This cash, which one might expect to be invested in maintenance, cleaning up water supplies and bringing costs down, is going to be invested in clearing vast tracks of countryside for roads.

Meanwhile, and as Welsh Water put in its bid, the sewers in Ruthin, North Wales, cracked and filled the river Clywd with raw sewage killing all the trout downstream. In a separate incident the National Rivers Authority has recently announced its intention to prosecute Welsh Water for the heavy pollution of the beach at Saundersfoot.