Nationalisation "not a Labour priority" says fund manager

As MPs from both sides the Commons split from their party ranks to form an independent group to challenge the established policy lines, water nationalisation may not top a putative Labour government’s list of priorities and could even appear in the next Conservative manifesto according to reported comments from fund managers. Online investor newsletter, Morning Star, reported manager of the Legg Mason IF RARE Global Infrastructure fund, Nick Langley, as claiming a number of Labour politicians have suggested to him that nationalisation was low their priority list. “Our view is there’ll be a lot of noise around it and it plays well with their constituent base, but ultimately financial sense wi

Water nationalisation critic, Angela Smith, among Labour defectors

Among the Labour Party defectors who are poised to set up a new independent political party was active participant in water sector matters Angela Smith MP who is highly regarded by the industry. Smith (pictured) last year lost a vote of no confidence brought by local party members who objected to her criticism of Labour’s policy on water nationalisation and of party leader Jeremy Corbyn more broadly. In a recent speech to British Water she supported the proposal that water companies should be considered as social enterprises – a view highlighted at THE WATER REPORT's November summit and promoted by Ofwat chief, Rachel Fletcher. In a statement on her constituency website explaining her deci

Final settlement runs to begin in March as Ofwat locks in back bill change rules

Ofwat will this week (28 February) implement its proposed decision to allow businesses with significant water costs and whose invoices are based on unplanned settlement runs to be back billed by up to 24 months, rather than the 16 months set out in the original Customer Protection Code of Practice (CPCoP). Last week, the regulator approved change proposal CP0001 and published a revised version of the CPCoP on its website to reflect the amendments. It also approved CPW055 making the relevant modifications to the Wholesale Retail Code. These concern allowing a wholesaler to invoice a retailer for a positive sum based on a Post RF Settlement Report or a Settlement Report issued after a dispute,

Government infrastructure advisor calls for faster progress

National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) chair, Sir John Armitt, has urged ministers to go further and faster to meet the country’s infrastructure needs. Speaking as the Commission published its second Annual Monitoring Report, Armitt (pictured) urged the government to: • adopt a clear National Infrastructure Strategy – he highlighted the fully-costed and ambitious recommendations in the UK’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment, and urged ministers to adopt them in the National Infrastructure Strategy it has committed to produce this year; and • to make “bold and brave” decisions. He explained that to date, the recommendations adopted and enacted by ministers have been the quickest

Defra consultation on "conservation covenants” for Environment Bill

Defra s consulting on how best to introduce “conservation covenants” – a new tool to protect the environment, pledged in the 25 Year Environment Plan. The covenants are voluntary but legally-binding agreements which enable landowners to leave a permanent conservation legacy on their land for future generations. They would be binding on future owners of the land and would be overseen by responsible bodies to ensure land management obligations are delivered. Payment for ecosystem services is one of the scenarios the government envisages could be suitable for a conservation covenant. It provided the following example: “An area of woodland upstream of a river which passes near homes has helped t

Cox: most firms support board leadership licence condition

Ofwat, chair, Jonson Cox has written to water industry chairs to flag up that most companies have indicated acceptance of a licence condition enshrining its recently published board leadership, transparency and governance principles, and that Ofwat will soon be writing to all to seek agreement on the text of the licence condition. Cox (pictured) said that on top of the five firms that have a licence condition in place to meet the new principles already (introduced at the time other amendments were made recently) – Severn Trent, Hafren Dyfrdwy, Thames, Portsmouth and South West Water – a further seven companies have indicated they will accept a licence condition. These are Anglian, Bristol, S

Leep pounces on SSE Water to form NAV sector's largest player

Operator of non-regulated and regulated power, heat and water networks, Leep Utilities, is poised to acquire what is claimed to be the UK’s largest New Appointments and Variations (NAV) company, SSE Water, from energy firm, SSE for an undisclosed sum. Leep will merge SSE Water’s 20,000 customers at 28 sites in southern England and Wales with its own networks. Leep expects to close the deal is by the end of March. It is conditional on various approvals. Leep is a joint-venture between infrastructure investment manager, Ancala Partners (Ancala), and private real estate investment and infrastructure firm, Peel Group. Managing Partner at Ancala, Spence Clunie, sad that while NAV companies remai

Black & Veatch joins forces with artificial intelligence firm to target UK water

Engineering consultancy, Black & Veatch, has joined forces with Canadian artificial intelligence (AI) developer, Emagin, in a bid to provide advanced operation and asset management control to the UK water sector. The consultancy said the partnership’s offering will “ensure quality and service are undiminished in the face of falling revenues and intense regulatory scrutiny.” Black and Veatch anticipates its track record in design, construction, and assets maintenance for “virtually all the UK’s water companies,” leave it “ideally placed to understand how cutting-edge AI technologies, like those offered by Emagin, will deliver significant benefits.” It said the Emagin AI technology enables wat

WaterAid forms clean water and sanitation partnership with John Lewis in India

WaterAid has formed a three-year partnership with the John Lewis Foundation to provide clean water and sanitation to communities in Sant Ravi Das Nagar (Bhadohi), India, where John Lewis & Partners carpets are made. The Foundation will donate £100,000 a year to provide 15,000 people to the district in Uttar Pradesh with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene, while also running a hygiene education programme to reach more than 100,000 people. Water Aid said some 163 million people in India, have no clean water close to home and millions more don’t have a decent toilet.

National Infrastructure Commission kicks off Chancellor's probe into regulation

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has called for evidence on future changes needed to ensure water and other utility regulation supports investment and innovation while at the same time keeping costs down for consumers. The call is part of a probe into regulation announced by Chancellor, Philip Hammond. “Technological change is having a transformative effect across the economy and regulators must be able to respond to keep the UK at the forefront of these advances,” said Hammond. “That’s why I’ve asked the NIC to look at how our regulators can prepare for and adapt to this change. Their findings will be key in helping ensure we rise to these challenges and remain fit for the futur

Network Rail herbicide agreement shields drinking water from pollution

An agreement between water companies and Network Rail for the herbicide used to keep tracks clear not to pollute waterways is now protecting more than 600 vulnerable sources of drinking water from pollution. Eight "spray trains" (one pictured) cover hundreds of miles every night to prevent over-growing plants and weeds – and ice when temperatures drop – from disrupting train services. Thames Water first launched a project in London and the Thames Valley in the 1990s to work with Network Rail’s predecessors to ensure the chemicals used did not pollute waterways, which often run parallel to rail lines. Now there are agreements in place to benefit all water companies and customers across Englan

EFRA Committee probes National Policy Statement for water resources

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry into the draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for water resources infrastructure. The Committee has invited written submissions by 6 March on the following areas: • Will the draft NPS encourage the sustainable, resilient and safe infrastructure projects required to meet future challenges? • Are the assessment criteria that must be considered in development consent applications adequately set out? • What are the implications of streamlining the planning process, whereby a NSIP already included in a Water Resource Management Plan (WRMP) does not need to be revisited as part of a development consent? • How effectively ha

Business leaders call for sustainable finance to adapt to climate change

UK business leaders have highlighted the need for finance that will enable businesses to adapt their operations to climate change while preserving their competitiveness in the UK. The call came from the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) following a round table it hosted with the International Chamber of Commerce to discuss the UK’s delivery of the United Nation’s (UN's) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In a statement the CBI said: “For businesses, the starting point to adapting to climate change and delivering on UK commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals has to be ensuring their on-going competitiveness within the UK. We need to support industry to decarbonise her

Northumbrian joins quality frontrunners with benchmark award win

Energy & Utility Skills, has awarded Northumbrian Water national accreditation for securing the strict quality standards for water quality operations. Northumbrian Water joined Anglian Water as the earliest water companies to be recognised for achieving high industry standards laid down in the Competent Operator Scheme – a collaboration between Water UK, the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) and Energy & Utility Skills. Energy & Utility Skills’ chief executive, Nick Ellins, said the scheme, “sets a nationwide benchmark of good practice that all the companies have signed up to. It is now an essential element of water quality assurance, with operator competence rightly embedded within the Pri

Water chiefs back inclusion commitment to boost workforce diversity

The chief executives of Anglian Water, Northumbrian Water, Scottish Water, SES Water, South West Water, Thames Water, United Utilities, Welsh Water and Yorkshire Water are among 32 utility leaders that have supported a new sector Inclusion Commitment – a long-term commitment to attract more diverse talent into their industry. Supported by Energy & Utility Skills, the commitment seeks to make the utility workforce more resilient; more reflective of customers and communities; and more innovative and productive. It is underpinned by five principles: • “Work collaboratively as a sector to drive change, challenging ourselves to do things differently, by sharing best practice and delivering sector

Fast track action points virtually wipe out financial benefits

Ofwat’s interventions in the PR19 business plans of Severn Trent, South West Water and United Utilities will largely offset the financial benefits of fast tracking, according to Moody’s. Although the three companies’ plans were of high quality, the companies had to accept a small number of changes to their submissions to achieve fast-track status and the associated benefits, including a reward of 10 basis points on the return on regulatory equity. Moody’s noted “this is approximately half of the level Ofwat awarded to the two fast-tracked companies at the 2014 price review” and went on to say: “We estimate that the additional action points, particularly on cost efficiencies and improving per

Ireland boosts spending on rural water services by 15%

The Irish government has allocated €23 million for investment in rural water services in 2019, an increase of €3 million on the 2018 spend. A total of €75 million has been committed up to 2021. The programme has been reviewed and a new grant scheme established which encourages rural communities to connect to the public drinking water and waste water network. In Ireland some 9% of the population have their drinking water supplied by group water schemes. A further 10% of people get their drinking water from private wells. Nearly 30% of households are not connected to public wastewater services and depend on either a septic tank, group wastewater treatment or other systems for treating their

Under investment in wastewater poses health threat – Irish parliament warned

A legacy of under-investment in waste water infrastructure has left Ireland with a health risk because of the untreated sewage polluting the country’s waterways, the Irish parliament was told this week. That warning came from the Environmental Protection Agency in a submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government. The agency highlighted that “raw” sewage from the equivalent of 86,000 people was flowing into Irish waterways every day. This was “a health threat” that was not being dealt with quickly enough. “Ireland is not addressing the deficiencies in waste water treatment infrastructure at a fast-enough pace and, consequently, our health is continually expos

Institution of Civil Engineers in scheme to spark sustainable drainage construction

The Institution of Civil Engineers has partnered with pipe-maker, Wavin, to initiate a series of design sprints involving the water sector and other stakeholders in a bid to produce innovative approaches to implementing sustainable drainage systems (SuDS). The sprints will bring together water and sewerage companies, local authorities, and developers ahead of guidance, scheduled to apply this summer. Findings from the design sprint outputs will be presented at the Futurebuild conference in March 2019. The partnership will set up a SuDS forum another vehicles for collaboration and information sharing.

Thames' mental health first aid policy features in new guidance

Thames Water was one of eight companies consulted by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England in its compilation of new published guidelines for employers, Implementing Mental Health First Aiders. Thames said it had “embedded mental health first aiders throughout our business,” and had seen “a 75 per cent reduction in work-related stress, anxiety and depression since 2014.” The MHFA guidance features advice on recruiting, promoting and supporting staff trained in mental health first aid in line with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommendations. HSE estimates that 15.4 million working days a year are lost due to mental ill health. Thames Water’s chief health, safety and security officer, K