The Horticultural Trades Association, Association of Professional Landscapers, British Association of Landscape Industries and the Turfgrass Growers Association held talks with the water industry on Tuesday as part of their united efforts to minimise the potential negative effects of the hosepipe ban on the landscape industry.
The landscape industry has been calling for an exemption from the ban for professional landscapers, but as yet this has not been permitted by water companies. As a result of a constructive meeting, Thames Water and potentially other water companies, will explore ways to provide access to non-potable water for landscape businesses to help alleviate the immediate repercussions. Longer term, the landscape industry will look to establish a robust evidence base of its use of water efficient equipment and techniques to help demonstrate its responsible use of water at all times.
The water industry reaffirmed the severity of the current drought which has already reached historic levels in some areas. Long term weather forecasts predict that the drought is set to continue over the coming weeks and months. The seven water companies affected had therefore deliberated carefully on the options available to them now. Whilst recognising the difficulty that hosepipe bans would cause the landscape industry, they had nevertheless reluctantly decided not to provide exemptions for professional landscapers to help achieve the water savings they need at this point of the drought cycle. To help mitigate the situation, Thames Water has focussed significant effort on finding and providing access to non-potable water to landscapers in their region and will encourage other water companies to take similar action.
The landscape industry expressed disappointment that no apparent progress had been made by water companies since the drought of 2006 and that the landscape industry had been singled out again for disproportionate treatment. This was despite the inclusion of suggested concessions for the landscape and turf industries written into the water industry’s Code of Practice for introducing temporary restrictions. Furthermore, it seemed anomalous that the water companies are allowing car wash and window cleaning businesses to continue to use a hosepipe, but landscapers are precluded from doing so to water turf and plants on non-commercial sites. The marginal increase in water usage in allowing exemptions for professional use would be small compared to general domestic reductions. Professional landscapers are responsible users of water who can help embed longer-term behavioural change amongst their customers, though both industries agreed this would be easier to achieve if government incentives existed to encourage investment in water-efficient systems. We will therefore work along-side the water companies to develop a robust case for water-efficient landscaping that will help protect landscape companies in times of water shortage, and to lobby government to incentivise investment in water-efficient schemes. This year’s hosepipe bans will have a significant financial impact on the landscape industry and the landscape representatives present at the meeting will continue to highlight these concerns to government. It was noted in particular that tanking in non-potable water, and the use of drip irrigation systems, are not practical options for the turf industry in the majority of cases.
Gill Ormrod, Angela Bean or Cassie King
HTA Media Office
Tel: 0118 930 3132
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is the trade association for the UK garden industry. It is dedicated to helping develop the industry and its member businesses, including most garden centres and other garden retailers, growers, landscapers, manufacturers and service providers.
The HTA was founded in 1899. Its key roles include: provision of advice-based services such as business improvement schemes, briefings and help lines; training, conferences and events for members; market information and research; promotions such as the National Garden Gift Voucher scheme; and working closely with government and the media to influence policy and projects.