Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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Next steps for England’s water market and the implementation of PR19

Morning, Friday, 23rd October 2020

Online Conference

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will assess the next steps for developing England’s water market, and the priorities for operating within the new 2019 Price Review (PR19) framework.

Bringing together key stakeholders with regulatory and policy officials, areas for discussion include:

  • the PR19 regulatory framework, and adjusting the sector to new commitments and pricing
  • preparing and delivering a green COVID-19 recovery
  • developing England’s water infrastructure and maintaining resilience
  • sustainable water systems and priorities for protecting the natural environment

The discussion in detail:

The PR19 regulatory framework, and adjusting the sector to new commitments and pricing

The implications of the new framework for stakeholders operating across the water sector, and the outstanding issues and practical ways forward for those affected in meeting the new requirements - including around customer services, affordability, and increasing financial sustainability, looking at:

  • rate reform for water suppliers’ billing and return on investment and how customer services can be improved:
    • delivering cost reduction for consumers
    • accelerating the reduction of leakage
    • adjusting company business strategies for the new revenue environment
  • developing financial sustainability across retailers - priorities for designing incentive regime structures that:
    • enable efficient services
    • ensure resilience to market shocks
    • reserve capital for essential infrastructure projects and improvements
  • integrating environmental improvements into business plans:
    • preparing for and addressing flooding and pollution incidents
    • delivering local modernisation upgrades
    • working towards net-zero by 2030

Preparing and delivering a green COVID-19 recovery

With the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency presenting further challenges for stakeholders across the water sector, attendees will also consider the potential for delivering a green economic recovery, and the steps needed to achieve the industry’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2030:

  • opportunities for developing cooperation across asset use - including:
    • sharing of resources and infrastructure
    • best practice around resilience and recovery
    • preserving quality consumer services
  • accelerating decarbonisation across the sector:
    • reducing emissions caused by the wastewater treatment process
    • increasing energy efficiency
    • ensuring climate goals are part of every business plan
  • the potential for research and development to innovate the sector:
    • utilising AI and smart technology to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs
    • developing digitisation to improve agility and the delivery of consumer services

Developing England’s water infrastructure and maintaining resilience

Priorities for water sector infrastructure across England, and the policy mechanisms and measures required for achieving long-term objectives around resilience and ensuring the system is fit for purpose:

  • enhancing resilience in the context of expected future pressures on water infrastructure such as droughts and flooding:
    • the Government’s long-term plan to tackle the risks of flooding and coastal erosion
    • priorities for investing in the construction of new reservoirs and dams
    • developing demand management measures
  • regional infrastructure plans and addressing local deficiencies:
    • working collaboratively with key stakeholders
    • identifying demand and climate risks, and cost effective solutions
  • Planning for a network that’s fit for a growing population - ensuring direct connections to households meet demand, that upgrades remain cost effective, and that the planning system enables agile development

Sustainable water systems and priorities for protecting the natural environment

  • Next steps for preserving the natural environment, in the context of:
    • the Agriculture Bill and the Environment Bill
    • increasing pressures on water resources
    • delivering improvements to the environment and the habitats of species where resilience has been eroded
  • The use of wastewater infrastructure and ensuring that treatment processes do not contaminate land or ecosystems, and that waste management and transport systems are sustainable
  • Expanding the development of water reuse facilities and working with suppliers, infrastructure developers and consumers to improve efficiency and reduce water consumption
  • Enhancing cooperation between key water sector stakeholders and environmental bodies to drive forward environmental protections and tackle flooding, such as:
    • developing key infrastructure
    • increasing the supply of clean water reserves
    • protecting the habitats of species and the wider ecosystem

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

  • As the water sector enters the new regulatory regime period of PR19
  • The Agriculture Bill and the Environment Bill - including plans for moving towards a system of payment for public goods and the introduction of an Office for Environmental Protection (OEP)
  • Ofwat’s consultation on Covid-19 and the business retail market - reviewing the temporary measures it implemented earlier in the pandemic
  • After the Spring Budget, in which £39m of investment was earmarked for water supply and water navigation assets, including the provision of upfront funds for repairs, and the Government’s Draft National Policy Statement for Water Resources Infrastructure - which outlines the shape of significant infrastructure projects required across the water sector, and how the frameworks around planning and regulation can aid their delivery
  • Following the publication of the National Framework for Water Resources, which outlines the future water needs of England by 2050 and how these can be met while restoring the environment - such as the scale of action needed, the designation of regional groups to address location-specific issues, and addressing risks to coastal wetlands and ecosystems
  • A government commissioned independent review of the responsibilities for surface water and drainage assets, which will report later this year
  • The Environment Agency’s National Framework for Water Resources which explores England’s long term water needs for public water supplies, agriculture, the power and industry sectors and environmental protection
  • The announcement of government’s long-term plan to tackle the risks of flooding and coastal erosion - which included a commitment to consider if additional outcome measures for water companies are required ahead of the 2024 Price Review, and through future Price Reviews, to address flood and coastal resilience

The agenda:

  • The final PR19 determinations and reforming the regulatory regime - new commitments for services, cost effectiveness, and consumer quality
  • Adjusting to the new price review period and priorities for meeting demand - tightening environmental commitments, developing financial sustainability, and reducing costs for consumers
  • A green COVID-19 recovery - cooperation across asset use, sharing development plans and best practice, and latest thinking on decarbonising operations and setting a plan for net-zero by 2030
  • Assessing the priorities for further developing water infrastructure in England
    • Overcoming legal and physical challenges for delivering water infrastructure projects, and best practice for navigating through the NSIP regime framework
    • Addressing future pressures on infrastructure assets and delivering long-term resilience
    • Regional plans for water infrastructure needs - boosting capacity for reservoirs, preventing flooding and water droughts, and increasing facilities for water reuse plants
    • A fit-for-purpose water infrastructure network - ensuring direct connections meet demand, infrastructure capacity is ready for future consumer numbers, and maintain cost efficiency
    • Next steps for water sector research and development - the future of AI and data for smarter operations, and decentralised water systems for cost effectiveness
  • Policy priorities for England’s water sector, and ensuring regulation supports infrastructure modernisation and consumer quality

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

It is certainly the case with this conference. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons and officials from Ofwat; Defra; the Cabinet Office; and the Committee on Climate Change.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Sophie Broadfield

Deputy Director, Water Services, Defra

David Black

Senior Director, Water 2020, Ofwat


Baroness McIntosh

Co-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Water

Alex Davies-Jones MP

Co-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Water


Alex Plant

Director of Strategy and Regulation, Anglian Water

Dr James Robinson

Director of Conservation, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

Rob Light

Chair, Consumer Council for Water

Julian Boswall

Partner, Burges Salmon

Dr Vanessa Speight

Professor of Integrated Water Systems, University of Sheffield

Paul Hammett

National Water Specialist, National Farmers Union

Rupert Kruger

Practice Director, Ricardo Energy and Environment