FREE tap water refilling stations are being installed in thee local towns.

The initiative will see refilling points in Taunton town centre, outside Clarks shoe shop (week commencing October 18); Warren Road, opposite Minehead Railway Station (October 4); and High Street, Wellington (October 25).

The initiative, to help cut plastic use, is a partnership between Somerset West and Taunton Council, Wessex Water and Somerset County Council.

Following installation, each refill station will undergo testing for a number of weeks to ensure compliance with the highest drinking water standards, becoming available for public use towards the end of the year.

Once turned on, the refill units will be cleaned, maintained and inspected regularly.

The project is funded by Wessex Water’s Refill not Landfill campaign to reduce of single-use water bottles. Each refilling station will offer free drinking water for visitors using reusable bottles as a sustainable alternative.

SWT is supporting the project and has been working with Somerset County Council to agree the locations and appropriate licenses for Wessex Water to carry out the installation work.

Along with the other Somerset authorities, both SWT and the county have previously identified the need to reduce single-use plastics as part of the Somerset Climate Emergency Strategy.

Bottled water is known to be around 900 times more carbon intensive to produce than tap water, while the UK throws away 7 billion plastic water bottles a year, equivalent to 12 million tonnes of plastic that annually enter our oceans and has a devastating effect on our eco systems.

Cllr Dixie Darch, SWT executive member for climate change, said: “We’re excited to support the Refill not Landfill campaign and grateful for the opportunity to work with Wessex Water to help break the habit of reaching for single-use plastics.

“The new fill-up points will provide a green and money-saving alternative for members of the public, whilst reducing the amount of single-use water bottles being thrown away.

“This is a very positive and achievable step that we can all take to reduce both our carbon and waste outputs.”

Kirsty Scarlett, Wessex Water head of community engagement, said: “The water refill points have been installed in great locations to keep residents and visitors hydrated.

“These are just some of the many water refill points we will be installing across the region as part of our mission to reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles we all use.

“We are pleased to be able to work with so many local communities which share the same aim of promoting refill over landfill.”