Yorkshire to give Gummer detailed plan over drought

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The Independent Online

Yorkshire Water, which has been heavily criticised for its handling of the drought, promised to produce a detailed plan of action to deal with the water shortage last night.

The plan will be ready by next Monday Sir Gordon Jones, chairman of Yorkshire Water, told John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, in London yesterday.

Sir Gordon was invited to the meeting by Mr Gummer after parts of Yorkshire were identified as the areas hardest hit in a report on the drought from the National Rivers Authority.

A spokeswoman for the Department of the Environment said: "They had a clear and direct discussion that went into some detail on what is being done and what can be done and the measures which they are taking, especially to avoid using standpipes." She said Yorkshire Water would be providing Mr Gummer with a detailed zone by zone report together with medium and long-term predictions for supplies.

Earlier Sir Gordon admitted that Yorkshire Water had not spent enough money on reducing leaks but dismissed suggestions that he had been summoned in for a "going over" by Mr Gummer. He said: "I do not see it like that. But I think we are now culpable in the light of history in that we did not spend enough money on leakage reduction as a means of securing supply." He told the Today programme on Radio 4: "What we and all other companies have done is to say we will maintain the system as it is and only spend money on reducing leakage if it is economic. Those days have gone."

North West Water has applied for a ban on non-essential supplies for Greater Manchester, much of Lancashire and Cumbria, but not Merseyside or most of Cheshire.