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Wednesday, 06 July 2016 11:03

Water industry sector offered guidance to navigate survival following Brexit

How will Britain's water and wastewater sector, from giant utilities to small businesses, be affected by the UK voting to leave the European Union in last month's referendum?

brexit water Brit waterIndustry trade association British Water says it can help its members navigate the new political, economic and trading landscape following the recent surprise referendum result. The decision of UK voters to leave the European Union is certain to have a significant impact on a sector where considerable investment is driven by EU directives on water, wastewater and the environment.

Lloyd Martin, Chief Executive of British Water, which represents over 180 businesses in the water industry, said, "Following the result of the referendum on EU membership, industry finds itself in uncertain yet stimulating times. British Water recognises the significant impact that EU directives and the resulting investment have had in driving improvements in water and wastewater quality and for the environment since water company privatisation in the 1980s.

"British Water has the knowledge and expertise to help businesses both in the UK and internationally, through the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Through our experienced team and well established networks in both the private and public sectors, we can advise our members and provide stable governance at this time of change."

Mr Martin continued, "As we move into this new era, we will be seeking early clarity of what the post-AMP6, 2020 onwards, landscape may look like for the UK water sector, on behalf of our members. Our membership will welcome stability and we can provide members with expert guidance through our technical and UK forums.

"Internationally, British Water has always worked in varied markets, both inside and outside the EU. We understand the differing requirements of all these markets, many of which are complex, and we shall continue to develop support for our members' export sales growth."

The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), which represents the businesses which provide the technology and services that deliver environmental performance across the economy, commented on Britain's decision to leave the European Union. EIC's Executive Director Matthew Farrow said: "The UK environmental industry will be apprehensive..... For all its faults, over the last 30 years the EU has turned Britain away from our past of landfills, toxic air and filthy beaches.

"The long term certainty provided by EU environmental laws gave green businesses a framework against which to plan and invest, and EU membership enabled the UK to help shape Europe's stance in global climate negotiations. As we now enter the uncertainty of negotiations probably leading to withdrawal from the EU, it is vital that all those who care about our environment work together to ensure that an independent UK builds on, rather than dismantles, the high environmental standards that EU membership has delivered. The EIC and its members will be at the heart of this effort."

brexit water EIC copyThe EIC's Water Management Working Group represents all sectors of the Water Industry's supply chain. Members of the Group include manufacturers and suppliers of effluent and water treatment and control systems, chemical suppliers, biotechnology companies, contractors, consultants, environmental laboratories, solicitors and many more.

The Group works to improve the business potential for its members by influencing UK and( formerly) EU water-related legislation and regulation – particularly the Water Bill, the Flood & Water Management Act, EU Water Framework Directive, and ongoing monitoring of River Basin Management Plans – and other aspects of water management including the implementation of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and the impending National Standards and the monitoring of Combined Sewer Overflows.

The Group's key focus beyond water quality, environmental protection, and the mitigation of flood risk, is the ongoing commercial health of the Water Industry's supply chain. The water sector is more volatile than most, with a regular and consistent 'boom and bust' investment profile (relating to the five-yearly AMP cycle), which leads to regular redundancies and the migration of highly skilled workers to other, more stable sectors. EIC has for many years been the lead voice for the supply chain, lobbying the Government to introduce policies which would smooth out this volatility thereby ensuring our Member Companies are better able to plan their resources.

CIWEM (Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management) have published on their website: In this uncertain time of transition, CIWEM is working to make sure the needs of all of our members and the Water and Environmental industry as a whole are met.

brexit water ciwemMembership of the EU has driven much of Britain's environmental policy development over recent decades. CIWEM is currently looking at the implications of the different exit scenarios for the environment, its management and regulation. Given the current uncertainty around timing of any exit from the EU, not to mention the profound instability of British politics as a result of the referendum, implications for the environment are likely to remain particularly unclear for months, if not years. We will be certain to monitor events closely, press for the maintenance or improvement of levels of environmental protection and performance within Britain and at a global level in line with commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

There is a wealth of analysis and position in the public domain on the subject. CIWEM's briefing on Britain, the EU Referendum and the environment discusses some of the uncertainties that exist, the role that the EU has played in driving environmental management and regulation and provides links to a range of analysis and comment sources which may help CIWEM members better understand the issues.

We would also like to reassure Members that the global status of qualifications and membership are unaffected by the outcome.

British Water
CIWEM's briefing on Britain, the EU Referendum