How do we deal with drought in our region?

WE’RE in the middle of Climate Week and at the end of another dry winter when the South East of England has been declared officially in drought.

We need reminding more than ever before of the need to be proactive in creating smart new ways of making this precious resource last.

Many positive steps are already being taken in workplaces and communities across Britain and the Climate Week campaign – which was launched last year with the backing of the Prime Minister - seeks to motivate individuals and organisations to share ideas about practical solutions.

I mentioned recently a local primary school which is bursting with ingenious plans and is marking Climate Week by switching on its Rainwater Harvesting System.

It’s about instilling an ethic of responsibility for our natural resources and that will involve a multi-faceted response to what the Government believes is one of the gravest threats we face.

Climate change has triggered Southern Water’s submission to Defra of a Draft Drought Plan.

This is followed by a public consultation - closing at the end of March - to engage the public’s views on proposals to deal with drought in the South East.

Locally, Southern Water has rolled out a programme including over 330 environmental projects.

This is more than any other water company.

Improvements include the recently completed £900,000 upgrade to Balcombe Wastewater Treatment Works and ongoing replacement of leaky old pipes in the Horsham district.

Transforming to a low carbon economy is what we’re aiming for at national level.

That will mean shifting the focus from top-down taxes and regulations to creating market incentives like the Green Deal.

From this autumn every British home and business will be able to install packages of energy saving technologies such as insulation, worth up to £10,000 - but at no upfront cost, with repayments made over time and out of the energy savings.

The Green Deal is expected to kick start around £14bn of private sector investment over the next decade and could support at least 65,000 insulation and construction jobs by 2015.

We are delivering in Government the Conservative green agenda we promised in Opposition.

And if we are to achieve our goals in a time of austerity, it makes sense to harness business and community initiatives geared to using less energy in the first place.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham