Scotland the Hydro Nation: annual report 2019

Records the development of our Hydro Nation policy agenda and reports on progress since the publication of the fifth annual report in 2018.

Our Water Economy Vision

Introduction by Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform

I am very pleased to introduce this annual report to the Scottish Parliament on progress in delivering against our Hydro Nation agenda. Since the introduction of legislation in 2013 we have worked to support and develop the water sector with greater focus as we seek to realise our vision of Scotland as a Hydro Nation.

In July 2019 Scottish Enterprise published new, independent research which shows the impact of the sector in Scotland; it employs 16,600 direct jobs, has a turnover of £3.7 billion and exports of £170 million. The sector overall has grown by an impressive 29% in the past 3 years, whilst over 60% of companies have plans for growth. These are extremely encouraging figures, and within the sector once again Scottish Water continues to perform strongly and is a real public sector success story. I welcome their achievements, including reaching the highest-ever level of customer satisfaction despite the challenges presented by the warmest summer for a quarter of a century, and a forerunner of what we can expect to see increasingly in the future.

Last summer’s events serve to highlight the First Minister’s acknowledgement that we are facing a general climate emergency, and the need for all of us to up our game to help meet Scotland’s world-leading climate change targets. I am therefore delighted that as part of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, Scottish Water have committed to being a zero carbon user of electricity by 2040 – five years before our net zero target.

As previous editions of this report have shown, the water sector has been consistently stepping up to the climate change challenge. To build on this, I have recently asked Scottish Water to work with its partners to develop a new, long-term co-ordinated vision for the water sector that clearly identifies how it will transform the way it delivers its vital service to maintain the highest standards of customer service and improve technical standards. It will do so whilst taking a leading position in our journey to Scotland’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2045, the development of the circular economy and one planet living. Wastewater and sewage should no longer be thought of as a problem to be solved away, but rather as a potentially valuable resource that can be harnessed. The sector should aspire to excellence in everything it does.

The vision must highlight ambition for excellent water quality and enhancing the environment whilst remaining an affordable service to customers. It is expected to highlight the critical role the sector has in supporting the economy and creating a flourishing Scotland. By working together closely as we have done successfully for many years, we will deliver on this vision that supports a flourishing Scotland. Our water sector, with the publicly-owned Scottish Water at its heart will continue to be something everyone in Scotland can be justly proud of.



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