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AMP6 and the Water Companies Partnership in Improving Surface Water Management

by on August 20, 2013

Water MainI was lucky enough to attend the recent British water annual lunch with our good friends at Water Active. We were privileged to hear from a representative of the Treasury and hear his observations about the AMP5 and AMP6 programs.

Let me precursor this by explaining that I am fairly new to the industry in the UK, having come from Australia the AMP schemes are a little foreign to me (if you’ll excuse the pun). I found it interesting to note the observations made about the schemes and the past patterns of spending. With a slow and careful planning stage at the outset, then a strong and steady period of work in the middle couple of years and then a tailing off as the funds dry up in the last year. Sometimes this was so severe that the observation was that in the 5 year AMP cycle only the middle 3 years saw any of the funding and the rest of the time was spent counting pennies. Whether true or not I can imagine this could be quite an interesting environment to work in historically.

AMP6 is on the horizon and from the early discussions we have been involved with through the water companies it seems this time round there have been lessons learnt. We are already seeing AMP6 framework agreements take shape with plans well under way.

PR14 (Periodic Review 14) has set out new opportunities and challenges that AMP6 will deliver including the benefit to the environment in alignment with the EU Water Framework Directive (EU WFD). PR14 differs from the EU WFD however and covers a range of issues, including;

  • Outcomes rather than outputs
  • Applying a risk based approach
  • Joint outcomes
  • Customer Challenge Groups

The interesting change now of course is the increased accountability placed on Water Companies in relation to surface water management. Gone are the days that flooding was a concern of the local councils and LLFAs alone. Now we are seeing Defra sharing that onus in partnership with the water companies where arguably it should reasonably rest. This shift in ownership has many consultants salivating as their finely honed expertise working with local authorities can now be rolled out to the ‘big boys’ and the scope of the work they are vying for expands exponentially.

The real question is how this will affect the way we approach SuDS and Floods. Everyone is scrambling to meet Defra’s new guidance. We’re seeing SuDS Approving Bodies (SAB) roles introduced across the local authorities (dependent upon announcements in October). Ownership of assets can be as murky as the flood waters that everyone is trying to mitigate, so for the Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) to be held responsible for ‘surface water flooding’ under the Flood & Water Management Act 2010 the depth of collaboration (excuse the pun), partnerships and information sharing has never been as important.

In summary, the way forward will be focusing the water industry to deliver outcomes rather than outputs. This will involve greater collaboration and increased opportunities to deliver environmental technologies, consultation and technical support to ensure greater success and an improved environment for future generations.

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One Comment
  1. Certainly an area which needs to be improved, although it does help generate me a fair bit of work i must admit!

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