An initial foray into the legislation surrounding the ‘Temporary Usage Ban’ or Hosepipe ban, exposes no illegalities but certainly shows up a system which needed to be addressed well before the existing restrictions were imposed as well as highlighting some rather ‘iffy’ issues with regards a large private company having the power to destroy an industry made up of many smaller viable businesses.
The lack of any kind of effective lobbying on behalf of the landscaping and horticultural industry has resulted in the fact that evidence that an exemption which would enable those in the industry directly or indirectly affected to continue to work – as well as providing a security to ensure the protection of existing and new green infrastructure has not been placed in front of the Secretary of State, who is able to determine who is or isn’t included in the list of water use as per the Water Industry Act 1991.
If nothing more clearly shows up the (previous) lack of any voice actively and effectively speaking on behalf of the Landscaping and Horticultural industry – it is the current ludicrous position that SME’s in the industry are at real risk of being bankrupted by the decisions of a private water company.
Thames Water followed legal procedure laid out in 1991. And we have also been warned about a pending drought situation for even longer. Why hasn’t anyone in the echelons of the industry or gardening media tackled this in the last 20 years?
Thames Water allowed just 7 days for consultation, (a consultation which falls well short of the Code of Practice on Consultation ) before the ‘Temporary Usage Ban’ (TUB) for exemption appeals. Firstly the common language for TUB is ‘Hosepipe Ban’. Already many interested people and businesses are on the back foot because the common term used had been changed. Not the fault of Thames Water or Government – but highlighting a disastrous lack of communication within the landscaping and Horticultural industry, whoever is out there purporting to represent the industry for the last 20 years must be feeling very embarrassed.
And the gardening journalists of general media and in particular general printed media have failed us all miserably also. And continue to do so, some of the absolute nonsense, often by way of NGO PR teams is nothing short of ridiculous – statements such as ‘Mature Trees do not require watering as they tap into deep water reserves’ is just wrong. Sometimes even dangerous statements such as - throw the remains of a cup of tea towards the base of tree?!? This will quickly kill off the majority of important soil organisms where it saturates into the soil.
And I am yet to hear any sensible and practical plans as to how all the new trees for the Jubilee, Big Tree Planting and other projects are going to be watered, let alone have their necessary future maintenance requirements provided for.
And why hasn’t anyone yet picked up on some dubious issues with regards the exemption sites:
Thames Waters have a business interest in the Olympic site, which has been awarded exemption from the ban by Thames Water! It may be legal but it smells.
The next stage for any kind of lobbying has to go straight to the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Defra who has a good record for listening. (The media may well jump at any excuse to criticise a politician for taking a ‘U Turn’ when actually it proves that they are keen to listen to debate and react accordingly). And with a lack of anyone else bothering to take the hosepipe ban issue seriously enough the onus is on individual landscaping and horticultural businesses to speak up on behalf of themselves. And the LJN has already proven it role in helping with this process to be highly effective indeed.
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