"Central role" yet only a passing mention for water in Industrial Strategy

Water featured little in the government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, published on Monday.

“Upgrading infrastructure” was one of ten “pillars” the paper identified as key drivers of growth. Within the section devoted to infrastructure, the government acknowledged the central role water plays in the economy.

It observed: “Resilient infrastructure fit for our long-term needs is vital to economic growth – such as water supplies for businesses and people. Investing in infrastructure also mitigates potential economic losses, for example from a changing climate, flooding and drought.”

However there was nothing in the way of detail on how water infrastructure was to be made more resilient or improved; nor did the strategy contain any new commitments relating specifically to the sector.

Water was one of a number of infrastructure elements that the government identified as in need of improvement: “We must upgrade our standards of performance on digital, energy, transport, water and flood defence infrastructure, and better align central government infrastructure investment with local growth priorities.”

This followed the admission that “according to World Economic Forum surveys, the UK's overall infrastructure is perceived by international businesses as worse than our competitors'”. The government identified the reasons for this shortfall

as including: a lack of clear long-term plans and budgets; a complex planning system; and failure to align planning for infrastructure with planning for housing and industry.

The Industrial Strategy aims to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country. Responses are welcome until 17 April.