Poll shows water leaders see little for sector if UK quits European Union

As polling day on European Union membership approaches, our readers are reminded of the findings of THE WATER REPORT’s April Expert Forum poll which concluded that securing investment would be hard hit if Britain left the European Union.

The Expert Forum – leaders and opinion-formers from in and around the sector – saw little or no upside potential for the water industry, while plenty saw downside risk (see original article).

THE WATER REPORT and its research partner Accent polled Expert Forum members on how UK water might be affected by an out vote. Two-thirds of participants said Brexit would be negative for the UK water industry. A further 19% said it would have no effect, and 14% thought it would be positive.

Chief among the issues driving negative sentiment was the expected impact on investment. Respondents’ comments included:

  • “It is likely to cause uncertainty and increase interest rates. In addition it will discourage some foreign investors who have big stakes in the UK water industry.”

  • “It would lead to economic uncertainty and might spook some of the EU based lenders. I think we can expect bank rates to rise in UK and for there to be a risk premium added to EU based and USD based loans.”

  • “Loss of the European Investment Bank as an investor would be detrimental.”

There was some positive sentiment regarding the environment, but this was still dwarfed by the proportion reporting negative views. One said it was “difficult to imagine a Conservative government giving the protection of the environment much priority without the EU to mandate in this area”.