DEFRA launches water-saving products list

The Environment Department has launched a list of water-efficient products whose purchasers will be able to claim costs against their taxable profits. The scheme - known as the water technology list - is intended as an incentive to greater water efficiency, but manufacturers have criticised the Department's slow progress in delivering a similar scheme for water pollution abatement equipment.

The water technology list builds on the experience gained over the last two years in using enhanced capital allowances (ECAs) to promote uptake of energy-saving products by business as part of the Government's climate change programme. The ECAs enable companies to write off capital costs against taxable profits.

In July, manufacturers and suppliers of water-efficient equipment were invited to apply to have their products considered for inclusion on the water technology list. Legislation underpinning the scheme appeared in August (ENDS Report 343, p 40 ), and qualifying criteria were published on the ECA-water website.1In November, DEFRA launched the initial list. Some 54 products from 13 suppliers are listed, grouped into five types - leakage detection equipment, flow controllers, water meters, efficient toilets and efficient taps. Companies on board include ABB, AquaSat, Elimileak, Multikwik, Palmer Environmental, Viterra Energy Services and Watertite.

The number of products is expected to grow as manufacturers continue to come forward and have their products considered. DEFRA says the list will be updated monthly.

Suppliers of listed equipment will be able to use the water technology list logo, and purchasing companies will be able to claim 100% first-year ECAs.

Although welcoming the initiative, the Environmental Industries Commission, which represents manufacturers of pollution control equipment, criticised the "disappointing" progress the Government had made on delivering the promised incentives.

EIC director Merlin Hyman said that more than two years have elapsed since the Government proposed to introduce the incentives for water pollution control equipment: "By failing to implement its pledge...the Government is putting [the] UK at a disadvantage with international competitors in the race to dominate the rapidly expanding world environmental technology and services market."

In DEFRA's defence, the task of clearly delimiting products used solely for water pollution abatement and control is a difficult one. Many of the fundamentals such as pumps, valves and tanks have multiple uses in process industries and would be difficult to include in a list-based system. Even equipment such as membrane bioreactors can be used in non-pollution control applications.

The EIC believes the problems are not insurmountable. It fears that DEFRA may take another couple of years to produce a water pollution control list. Meanwhile, the Netherlands and Italy already have schemes up and running.

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