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  • by Karma Loveday

Environment Agency consults on national reform for water sector environment programme

Ahead of the next round of periodic review investment, the Environment Agency is consulting on a redesign of the water industry national environment programme (WINEP), the programme of work water companies in England are required to do to meet their obligations from environmental legislation and UK government policy.


The proposed changes include

  • moving to a programme that is outcome- rather than output-focused whereby “water companies will be expected to deliver wider environmental outcomes that go beyond their statutory duties, such as contributing to habitat restoration and sustainable water management. This shift reflects the changing challenges of the environment, and will enable companies to deliver environmental improvements in a more flexible and efficient way”;

  • allowing a more flexible planning approach, where measures will have up to a 25-year scope for delivery, with an update taking place every five years to account for new information and technologies;

  • using more catchment- and nature-based solutions such as establishing wetlands for water treatment, in the light of growing recognition that they improve low-carbon solutions and benefits for biodiversity; and

  • drawing more on the expertise and resources of other catchment partners, such as wildlife trusts, landowners and local authorities “which are trying to achieve the same environmental improvements as water companies";

  • Increasing the role for the water sector in developing the WINEP to give more effective and innovative solutions.

  • Over 30 years, WINEP has driven £25bn of investment in the water environment, notably to bathing waters. However there is now a collective ambition for the programme to deliver more for the environment, customers and communities.

  • The EA and Ofwat have led a multi-stakeholder taskforce involving representatives from water companies, Natural England, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, CCW, and environmental non-governmental organisations to come up with a package of improvements.

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