Environment

Our business is intrinsically linked to the environment as we rely on it for our raw product, water. For this reason we do all we can to ensure there is a clean, resilient and sustainable supply available for current and future water customers whilst ensuring there is enough water available to support the needs of the environment too. Click 'Discover More' to find out more from our Head of Environment, Emma Goddard.

People

Our people are dedicated to providing you with the best service possible, whether they’re out in the field searching for leaks, managing our operational sites, testing the quality of your water or answering your queries. Each and every person within the business is dedicated to delivering you the safe reliable tap water supply you expect. Click 'Discover more' to find out more from our Head of HR, Sian Jenkins.

Introduction by Emma Goddard, Head of Environment

We are proud guardians of the environment and recognise the privilege and responsibility this brings.

A healthy, vibrant environment where nature can flourish is essential to protecting our valuable water resources. We continue to work closely with others to do everything we can to protect and enhance our natural environment for the benefit of future generations. We have committed to invest £59.4 million in a programme to benefit our natural habitats from 2020 to 2025.

In April 2022, we published our draft 25-year Environment Plan (H25 plan) to future-proof water for the environment and the next generation during a public consultation. Following feedback received in more than 400 responses, the H25 plan, which commits us to protect and enhance our natural environment, build an environment that adapts to climate change and keep rivers and underground water sources healthy, has been revised and will be launched in summer 2023.

A Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP) pilot scheme to install river habitat enhancements on the River Cuckmere has been completed successfully. During Year three of WINEP, we managed 1,514 hectares of land to improve biodiversity, exceeding our target. WINEP is closely linked to our water resources management plan process (WRMP24) and leads on from the main themes in our 25-year Environment Plan. This alignment ensures that the environment is considered at every stage of our long-term planning, investment and decision-making.

We launched an introduction to our River Stour chalk stream strategy in October, as part of the Defra’s wider catchment restoration programme. We are proud of our collaboration with stakeholders and community groups, including the Kentish Stour Catchment Partnership, on this important project.

Engagement with farmers, landowners and stakeholders is a key part of our Environment team’s work. We have collaborated with them throughout the year on projects such as installing pesticide handling plants and rainwater harvesting systems, funding precision farming machinery to help farmers manage their soil in the best way to capture more carbon, and ensuring the most appropriate trees are planted in the most appropriate locations. For instance, trees can stop rain seeping into the ground effectively, while more permanent chalk grassland in the right places helps to recharge our aquifers more effectively.

We have continued our extensive crop trials with maize growers to try different methods of preventing soil and farm chemical run-off into local rivers. Leaving harvested fields bare until the next crop is sown the following spring tends to make fields waterlogged with any farm chemicals and soil particles washing away into local rivers. Although we remove any harmful substances during the water treatment process, removing them at the source means less energy and fewer chemicals are needed to make the water safe to drink.

We’ve been incentivising farmers through a grant scheme to use cover crops to help hold the soil together when their maize is harvested. This prevents pollutants from reaching the river, and keeps them on the farm, ready for the next crop. Our extensive trials found that sowing rows of grass alongside the maize crop each spring was the most effective way of maintaining healthy soils – but farmers can alternatively cover the field in grass after harvest or grow a mix of cover crops over the winter period. Protecting the soil is becoming even more critical as extreme weather events, and warmer and drier summers, become more frequent. We also held a maize management workshop in East Sussex.

Our ambition to create a National Nature Reserve between Eastbourne and Seaford has taken another step forward with the government including it in their first environmental plan. This scheme has the backing of Natural England.

By 2025, we have committed to increase the amount of our own land which is managed for biodiversity from 54 per cent to 67 per cent, reaching 70 per cent to date.

We have already seen a big reduction in our CO2 emissions in the last five years. As a key part of our 2015 to 2020 investment programme, our operational carbon in tonnes has reduced by 38 per cent, but we’re not stopping there.

We aim to achieve operational carbon net zero by 2030, by increasing energy efficiency, using renewable sources, avoiding direct emissions, working with customers, investing in nature-based solutions and much more.

At South East Water we’re more than just a water supply company – we care deeply about the environment and want to protect and enhance it for future generations.

res

Number of pollution incidents (category 1 - 2)

As a key guardian of the south east’s environment, we expect ourselves to be compliant with all environmental regulations and to have zero pollution incidents.

River

Number of breaches of abstraction licences, environmental discharge consents

One of our key aims is to leave the environment in a better state than today so it can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Electric vehicles

Renewable energy measures

Find out about our responsible business commitment to publish our renewable energy measures.

Canada Geese

Natural capital accounting

We plan to adopt a natural capital approach to ensure we value our impacts and dependencies on nature in the decisions we make.

Refill campaign

Support the tap water refill campaign to reduce plastic bottled water

our responsible business commitment to support the tap water refill campaign to reduce plastic bottled water.

Working with abstractors

Engaging and working with abstractors to improve catchment resilience to low flows

We are one of many businesses that take water from the environment and we work with local farmers and landowners who also abstract water, to plan how they can be more water efficient benefitting both themselves and the environment.

Farming

Bespoke Abstraction Incentive Mechanism (AIM)

We see ourselves as guardians of the environment and a key part of that is maintaining and enhancing the natural world around us.

Electric vehicles

Greenhouse gas emissions

We are committed to the industry’s ambition to be Net Zero Carbon for operational emissions by 2030.

Arlington Reservoir

Delivery of Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP)

The Water Industry National Improvement Programme is focused on enhancing the natural environment and for this measure between 2020 and 2025 we must deliver 65 improvement schemes.

Farmland

Water Industry National Environment Programme

The statutory Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP) is centred on enhancing the natural environment and ensuring any water we take does not have a negative impact on the environment.

Arlington Reservoir

Protecting wildlife and increasing biodiversity

We are committed to providing biodiversity net gains on our sites through our ongoing conservation work during the 2020 to 2025 period.

Working with landowners

Engaging and working with landowners

In areas of land which have been identified as being at risk of raw water deterioration, our target is to successfully engage with farmers and landowners.