From Hamstead & Highgate
February 9, 2017
by Nathalie Raffray
Residents in Fortis Green are campaigning against smart water meters in or near their homes
Campaigners in Fortis Green have slammed Thames Water for installing controversial “smart” water meters without consulting residents.
Members of the Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association are accusing the water giant of bullying residents with false information as they “sweep through” the borough digging up pavements to fit them.
The group have been actively giving “Stop – Do Not Fit A Smart Water Meter” posters to residents to put in their windows and raise awareness.
Smart meters are replacing wired analogue meters which wirelessly monitor, measure and communicate customer’s water usage data to utility providers.
John Adrioni, from Stop Smart Meters Haringey, said: “The only consultation that occurred that we know of was with three streets in Tottenham last August. Since then there have been no consultation in the borough.
“Thames Water are counting on people’s ignorance. There is no law that mandates the installation of this product and it requires exposure of material facts to customers. Smart meters are a data collection device which does more than measure the water. There are safer alternatives like analogue meters which are tried, tested and work.”
He said the risks associated with smart water meter use include higher bills for some households, privacy violations through the collection of customer data and “Big Brother” monitoring and security risks, with the smart grid being vulnerable to hacking.
Cathy Stastny, of Alexandra Park, said: “The bullying is particularly unpleasant. They come knocking on your door saying it’s compulsory and saying if you don’t comply you face fines.”
Sarah Purdy, who lives in Ringwood Avenue added: “They are telling people it’s mandatory and people are believing it. Thames Water started this in Tottenham and have been working through the borough, next they’ll be sweeping through Barnet and Hampstead and people are not aware of the risks.
“Want our stop signs respected and we want a choice as there are safer alternatives.”
A spokesman for Thames Water said a 16 week public consultation was held in 2008. “Talking to our customers about our what we’re doing and why is very important to us, and we’ve found face-to-face conversations to be most effective. In Haringey, we’ve so far managed to speak to 70 per cent of customers in this way, and we’ll keep trying to reach the rest.”
He said all consumption data collected from a customer’s meter will be transferred using “robust encryption” and held on a secure database.
He added: “Installing smart water meters is a big part of our long-term plan to address the water supply and demand gap forecasted for London. The biggest benefit to customers will be that it puts them more in control of their water-use, and we will help them to adjust over the next two years. It also means we can detect more leaks, which we fix for free, to also save water.”
Karen Gibbs, senior policy manager at the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We expect Thames Water, and the other water companies in the region who are undertaking metering, to deal with customers’ concerns sensitively. Customers who feel the company has failed to do this should get in touch with us.”
A spokesman for the department of environment, food and rural affairs, said: “The type of water meter is a matter for the water company – so no laws there.”
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