Official: DEFRA confirms ‘Smart’ Water Meters are NOT compulsory

The Parliamentary Under Secretary for Water, Forestry, Rural Affairs and Resource Management, Dan Rogerson, has confirmed in a letter to Nicholas Soames MP that “no water company is ever required [by the Government] to introduce compulsory metering, even in areas of severe water stress” and that any decisions to introduce metering should “be done in consultation with customers”.

Over recent months, we have received several reports that certain utility companies are taking a heavy-handed approach in trying to enforce their corporate Smart Metering agendas – with at least one company insisting that they have legislative powers to force people to accept a Smart Meter.  As we can see from this letter, however, the reality is quite different – with Rogerson adding a warning that some customers “would see their bills rise” with water meters.

If your water company is trying to force you to have a Smart Water Meter, share this letter with them.  Rogerson’s comments are in keeping with previous confirmations given by the Government that Smart Energy Meters are not compulsory – a fact that many people are still not aware of because of on-going industry attempts to dupe customers into accepting them.


  1. Got letter today from Thames Water saying they have a legal power to force customers to have meter fitted but do not quote legislation. Customer services say power granted by Secretary of State but cannot quote statute or regulation. Any ideas ??

    • There is no law forcing you to have a Smart Meter and as the letter above shows, they must consult with you. Suggest you ask them if they can prove otherwise.

      • The Law is very murkey on this. the standard Defra response to this

        “The Government has no plans to bring forward compulsory water metering. No water company is ever required to introduce compulsory metering, even if it is in an area of severe water stress.”

        just means that the goverment won’t pursue you if you don’t have a (smart) meter. However it does not prevent the government from granting mandates to private entities to install them anyway (which lets both parties blame each other so they can have their cake and eat it too), as is the case with Thames water whom are strong arming residents into doing so, I thought that the threats of ‘no access’ tariffs was cute.

        as for proof, they (Thames Water) outright ignore the GOV.UK website (which states the same as defra) and when confronted with it, dismiss it as not relevant or superceded by their mandate directly from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. When asked about evidence, they will quote legisation from 1996 whereby they can replacement , install and otherwise access meters for suitable purposes (which doesn’t sound very ‘recent’ to me).

        in all likelyhood there really isn’t much we can do about it. the style of meters being replaced re external to the household for everyone on the same area and is under council juristriction. anyone lucky (?) enough to have an internal meter in the house will get slapped with a no access (read: more expensive) Tariff in retaliation.

      • also in regards to ‘consultation’, of course they will. I can tell you from experience that their consultation consists of:

        a) we will be installing smart meters regardless of whether you want us to or not
        b) we will file your objection somewhere in our records
        c) if you are able to prevent us from installing said meter, we will place you under a ‘no access’ Tariff and of course this will be costly

        it’s deliberately worded as a consultation (and reasonable to boot) and not an option to allow both parties to press ahead

        • It is an interesting scenario when you ask Southern Water to provide a copy of a contract signed by Me/You asking them to be your provider of services?? the fact they send you a new standing order format should tell us something.
          Looking a bit further Southern have announced there will be an £11.00 increase to pay for meters, they also state that and I quote ‘ If your property is pre 1960 it could be earthed to the metal water pipe and will be you who will have to pay to sort.???? COST.,.. Also they bang on you will still pay standing charge?? BUT ONLY PAY FOR THE WATER YOU USE,,, Con Con

          • so in the end defra’s response was

            ” the Government has no plans to introduce compulsory metering across the country. However, in an area designated ‘water stressed’, the water company can decide introduce compulsory metering. With regard to what type of meter is used, it is entirely up to the water company what type of meter it chooses to introduce.”

            which as suspected mostly means that they are not forcing utilisites companies to do this BUT utility companies can tehmselves make smart meter installation mandatory (sans punishment tariffs). Just thought that I would let you guys know. in my opinion the Focus should really be to make sure utility companies cannot deflect critisism onto the government (DEFRA) by making ambiguous claims of a goverment mandate (there is none). Gotta break that ‘he says, she says’ deadlock as it just means that neitehr party can be taken to task over this.

            Just thought I’d share the conclusion of this litte trip with you guys and advise not to rely on what DEFRA tell you. They are admanet not to take a stance on this issue nor rebuke false claims made in their name

    • Just send them a Notice of Non consent, and proceed from there.

  2. That’s all very well but you will notice that the DEFRA letter refers specifically to ‘water’ metering.

    No mention is made of electricity or gas metering…

  3. I was told on the 16/06/2014 that I could not cancel the visit from Balfour Beatty and if I did it would cost me £818.00. when you read
    into this Southern Water tell you that you will still pay standing charge and only pay extra for your water ??????? and remember if you live in pre 60s house your house may be earthed around the water pipe this is down to you to sort

    • No one has any right to come into your house without your permission. Issue them a Notice of Non-Consent.

  4. Sure looks like attempted assault and extortion to me. The replies by these utilities are meant to intimidate and extort money, and it couldn’t be any more clear. Not only are most of these individual “public servants” bad liars, but most of them don’t even know which lie to tell any more.

    You can thank your corporate economic paradigm for all the mayhem and chaos. As long as the corporate paradigm is accepted by your societies, you’ll have no individual rights whatsoever. Sure, there might have a few minor “wins” against a digital smart meter here and there, but the extortion and intimidation will continue to rob you of your rights and freedoms.

    Governments are NOT in control of these corporate racketeers, thus the UN Agenda 21 extermination of your planet will continue play out as planned. If you ask any of your MP’s about UN Agenda 21, they will act (or actually be) entirely clueless.

  5. so much for being a customer more like a dictatorship !

    quote : ‘ South East Water can meter your home and no contract is required for that purpose between us and our customers. As explained in my letter, water companies are in certain circumstances entitled to compulsorily meter the premises they supply and charge by reference to the volume of water used by their customers. These circumstances are satisfied in the case of South East Water. A comprehensive consultation process has been followed in relation to our Water Resources Management Plan which includes our metering programme.
    As our programme reaches your area you will receive detailed information including on the tariffs which are available to you. You will be notified in advance of the installation taking place.’

    • The questions here are whether they specifically consulted with you and whether they provided you with full disclosure on how the meters work and what private information they transmit.

      Whatever their comments, they do not have the ability to violate people’s rights.

  6. southern water told me that if I don’t let them inspect my flat,3 in the block with shared main,they would charge “no access” which would be £800 double what it is now.They say that they will estimate use,no longer using rateable values,on number of bedrooms so I have four bedrooms with two people living here.All wrong and just another fooking rip off for us plebs.This is extortion that I haven’t agreed to.

  7. Hello,

    For anyone interested … I have just had conversation with Thames Water and after explaining that I really would in principle like a meter installed – but not a SMART one – they have advised that it is in fact possible to fit your own meter – and have it inspected by Thames Water.

    As discussed ,

    If the customer fits their own meter.We will only adopt meter which are made by the following manufacturers:

    · Elster
    · Actaris / Itron
    · Sensus

    · Meter installations shall produce a neat, tidy, unobtrusive fitting and where possible the use of capillary fittings should be utilised.
    · All plumbing shall accord with good plumbing practice, comply with the Water Regulations BS6701 and with TW drawings / specification.
    · All fittings shall comply with the appropriate British Standards and be approved for use by WRAS.
    · There must be no obstruction preventing the meter being read.
    · The distance from the floor to the meter must not be less than 300mm.
    · Meters must not be fitted upside down or facing downwards.
    · If the meter is to be fitted in a cupboard it must be fitted within 300mm of the door.
    · A stop valve must be installed both upstream and downstream at a distance not exceeding 500mm from the meter.
    · A drain valve to BS 2879 must be positioned immediately downstream of a meter this can be a combined stop valve/drain valve.
    · An earth-bonding strap in compliance with BS7671 must be fitted to all installations except where the service pipe is MDPE, UPVC, HDPE or any plastic pipe.
    · A minimum clearance of 150mm above or below the meter is required for horizontal installations, for vertical installations a minimum distance of 150mm is required to one side, to allow access for maintenance.
    · Meters shall be positioned so that any potential leakage from the meter or other fittings, shall not affect electrical apparatus, e.g. consumer units, electricity meters, etc.
    · All new meter installations and pipe-work must be adequately supported with either “Munsen” rings or clips, which prevent vibration.
    · Meters must not be fitted within 500mm of a WC, a urinal stall or immediately behind a WC pan.

    After the meter fit, Thames Water will need to complete a bylaw inspection to check the fitting. There is a fee of £72.00 for this.

    • Thank you very much for this, Naz.

  8. South East water have recently been sending me letters asking to arrange an appointment for installation fo a water meter. My wife called them & said she believed they were not compulsory and asked for legislative proof that it was, and details of charges for refusing to have a water meter.

    A week later we recieved a letter stating as we hadn’t contacted SE water, we had 7 days to contact them or they would turn up & do some digging in preparation for the meter, stating if the stop valve was on our property, they would dig on our property!

    I rang SE water, told them we had contacted them (so letter was incorrect) and reminded them we wanted to see legislation and that they had no permission to dig on my property.

    We then received the ‘legislation’ mainly refering back to 2007 acts etc., but with nothing post dating the Dan Rogerson letter above. At this point I told them about the Dan Rogerson letter which they said they knew about and would get someone to call me.

    SE water called me and I told them my main concern was paying more money. The lady on the call said most people save money, and then told me that on my house size as a low user it would cost £10 a year more, as a medium user £75 a year more and as a high user £336 a year more. I then asked again for the charges if we refused to have a meter and was told £150 extra a year.

    I said I believed I was a high user and so not having a meter would be cheaper. The lady re-iterated it was essentially compulsory but theye didn’t want to go down the route of forcing people. I said its either compulsory or not, and if I can decide not to have one, obviously it is not compulsory, otherwise SE water would use the law to force me to have a meter.

    I have written to Dan Rogerson, Ncholas Soames and my MP (Gerald Howarth) to see if I can get a real clarification on the law. At present I am not having a meter installed and it looks like SE water will let me do that.

    I’ll add to this post if I find out any more.

  9. Response from Nicholas Soames MP…

    Dear #########,

    Thank you for your email of the 9th February about the introduction of water meters by South East Water.

    The Government does not take a blanket approach to metering policy and no water company is required to introduce compulsory metering, even if it is in an area of severe water stress.

    The Government believes that metering can be a fair way of charging for limited water resources. As circumstances are very different in different regions, the Government does not take a blanket approach to metering policy. In areas of serious water stress where there may not be enough water available to meet demand, a water company can include plans for metering all of their customers in their Water Resources Management Plan. In all other areas, household customers are entitled to have a meter installed free of charge by their water company on request, but cannot be required to have one fitted. The type of water meter to fit is a matter for the water company to decide

    I attach below a link to a freedom of information response by DEFRA on the compulsory fitting of water meters by Southern Water which provides more detailed information:-

    Best wishes.

    Yours sincerely,

    Nicholas Soames
    The Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP
    House of Commons
    SW1A 0AA

  10. I have been told by Southern Water that Since there are 5 adults in my house that I may be better off without a meter and that I don’t have to accept one. I may be better off paying the non access amount of £830.