Solving the surface water problem naturally

There are around four million properties at risk from surface water flooding. In 2015/16, more than 37,000 areas were externally flooded by sewage; and over 4,000 properties were internally flooded by sewage.[1] Plus, when too much rain enters the sewers they are allowed to spill untreated sewage into our rivers and sea. This happens thousands of times a year. Yet management of our surface water does not get prioritised or funded by Government to anywhere near the same degree as flooding from rivers. Even though the same Government document highlighting that nearly four million properties are at risk of surface water flooding also quoted 2.4 million properties are at risk of flooding from the rivers and sea, with one million at risk from both.

By using a naturalised approach to drainage, sustainable systems help reduce the amount of water entering our sewers. They can also improve the quality of water entering our sewers and create beautiful green spaces attractive to people and wildlife. Yet progress on integrating Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) into our urban environment is slow, through both new development and retrofitting.

WWT and CIWEM carried out a recent survey, which brought to light a number of reasons for this. For new development, we found that some problems can be addressed by better information and a change in culture, but ultimately better Government policy is required in this area to combat uncertainty and inconsistency. This is also the case with retrofit. SuDS provide many social benefits through reducing flood risk and providing green spaces, however, the financial incentives for a landowner to invest is less obvious. In addition, because of huge resource capacity issues in local authorities, they are unlikely to prioritise investment without a national driver.

So where do we go from here? Well there are a few nuggets to surface water management in the 25 year Environment Plan. In line with our recommendations, the Government aims to put in place more sustainable drainage, particularly in new development through considering changes to the planning framework and guidance. It also plans to improve existing arrangements for managing surface water flooding, through promising to create green and blue spaces and improving people’s ability to connect to nature and improve health and well-being.

However, for the 25 Year Plan to succeed, it is vital that is has buy in from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Developing metrics and details on next steps for implementation for the Plan will be key. The rhetoric to provide high quality housing is a small whisper alongside the need for numbers. This should not be acceptable. Good quality housing which is resilient to our changing climate can and should be provided without question. Between 2012 and 2015, the nine biggest housing developers increased their housing output by 33%. At the same time, revenue grew at more than twice this rate, increasing to 76%, with profit before tax rising by a staggering 200% in this period.[2]

The Government is currently drafting a surface water management action plan. To help deliver the aims in the 25 year Environment Plan, we recommend it includes the following:

  • National SuDS standards to include standards for delivering multiple benefits as the Welsh standards
  • A review of Government funding to reduce flood risk, identifying options to better allocate funding for surface water flood management projects.
  • Government has proposed to increase planning fees in order for planning authorities to have more resources. This should not just be used as suggested to increase the number of development applications being processed but should be used to increase expertise in sustainable drainage and ecology, to ensure planning conditions are met and to facilitate pre-application discussions.
  • Opportunity mapping should be undertaken between Lead Local Flood Authorities and Local Authorities which maps potential development against a variety of variables including water quality issues, environmentally sensitive areas and flood risk. This will help identify where SuDS would make the most impact in both new and existing development and therefore best value for money.
  • New build is only a small percentage of housing stock and the Government time and again fail to discuss retrofit. The action plan needs to acknowledge the role of retrofit SuDS and finally provide a driver to empower local authorities to invest in SuDS as flood risk mitigation. We propose Government promote strategic roll out of SuDS retrofit options and considers options for developing funding opportunities such as green bonds or facilitating collaborative funding.

Hannah Freeman
Senior Government Affairs Officer, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and Chair, Blueprint for Water

[1] Discover Water (accessed 13th July 2017)


PR19 – what’s in it for the environment?

Guest blog from David Black at Ofwat – the water sector regulator. 

Improved environmental health has been one of the great successes of the water sector in the past few decades. Since 1989, the work of water companies has led to a 137% increase in the share of UK bathing waters achieving “excellent” status, and wildlife such as otters and lamprey have returned to waters previously too polluted for anything to live in. In addition, since its high in 1994, the amount of water lost through leakage has been reduced by around a third. All of this has helped the UK shed its label as the ‘Dirty Man of Europe’.

Fast forward to the present, and environmental protection and resilience remain high on the public agenda, with decarbonisation, air quality, and pollution of our oceans all grabbing headlines in recent months. The water sector is not immune to environmental challenges, with issues caused by population growth and climate change requiring attention. It’s with these challenges in mind that we put together our 2019 price review (PR19).

Challenging companies

At PR19 our ambition for the environment is high. We will help ensure companies can deliver their statutory obligations and the environmental improvements that customers want and are willing to pay for. To make this happen, we are:

  • challenging companies to reduce leakage by 15% per annum;
  • asking companies to set ambitious targets for per capita consumption (PCC) reductions;
  • challenging companies to set stretching performance commitments on pollution incidents, sewer collapses and wastewater treatment. Companies will face financial penalties if they are not achieving stretching levels of performance;
  • requiring companies to have a performance commitment on reducing abstraction from environmentally sensitive sites;
  • ensuring companies consider the environment as an explicit part of their wider resilience.

Our PCC measure is particularly important, as it requires reductions in the amount of water households and businesses consume. To deliver this, water companies must engage with their customers on the best way to reduce their water use, putting communications at the heart of their operation and promoting a powerful tool in pursuit of environmental improvement – behaviour change.

But PR19 also puts a responsibility on companies to consider the environment in contexts that customers won’t see. A resilient environment is at the heart of a resilient water sector, and our resilience principles explicitly consider eco-system resilience. When planning for how they will deal with unexpected events, water companies will need to consider wider costs and benefits to society and the environment, including the sustainable use of natural capital.

Looking to the long term

The water sector needs to think long term, which is why we are asking water companies to provide assurance that their plans address long-term issues, and set indicative performance commitment levels for at least the next 15 years. This approach helps us to ensure that companies are on a genuinely sustainable path, rather than just responding to short-term incentives or issues. A number of emerging environmental issues – including nano-particles and antibiotics – are set to challenge the sector in the coming years, so it is right that companies expand their planning horizons.

PR19 also harnesses the power of markets in the interests of the environment. In January water companies will publish water resource market information, allowing third parties easy access to information about how they are planning to meet demand over the next 25 years. We are expecting and encouraging third parties to bid to provide services where they spot an opportunity for additional efficiencies. For example, a third party could offer innovative demand side solutions to enable a company to reduce abstraction of water from environmentally sensitive rivers and streams. We are also promoting the development of bioresource markets helping turn sludge waste into valuable energy and fertiliser.

When developing their business plans, we expect companies to actively engage customers and stakeholders to understand their requirements for environmental outcomes and investment. Our methodology indicates where we consider companies’ ambition should be on many issues. But beyond statutory and licence obligations, it is for customers to decide what level of environmental ambition they want and are willing to pay for. Our PR19 framework will ensure that companies will be held to account for delivering more of what matters to customers.

David Black
Senior Director, Water 2020, Ofwat

Read the full PR19 methodology. 

If you can’t measure it, how can you manage it?

Fundamental change is needed to the way in which the Environment Agency (EA) monitors and investigates the environment. Far too much data is recorded for no clear reason, with much of this never actually analysed or of insufficient quality to inform managers of the causes of problems. Furthermore, copious amounts of high quality data collected by other organisations are not currently used by the EA.

But, without effective measuring, you can’t manage our environment correctly. There are of course exceptions to this rule (as with most rules), but to manage water effectively it is generally essential to have high quality information on which to base your decisions. Is a river getting cleaner or more polluted? Where and when is pollution getting into the river or its tributaries? What is the principal source of the pollution? Unfortunately, for many rivers in England and Wales, we don’t have this basic information, or what we have is misleading.

The Angling Trust & Fish Legal have, for the last six years or so, been challenging the Environment Agency to address shortcomings in the way that it monitors and investigates river water quality, which is vitally important to our member angling clubs, fisheries and individual anglers, as well as being essential for protecting wildlife associated with watercourses. We believe that the current methodology is failing to identify problems with pollution on rivers due to its reliance on spot samples taken every few months, predominantly in dry weather and during the day. These samples will often fail to pick up spikes in pollution due to wet weather, or dips in dissolved oxygen at night, as the graph below shows. This is likely to have led to rivers being incorrectly classified, and failures to investigate and stop sources of pollution.

Figure 1. Diurnal Variation of Ammonia Concentration in Sewage Effluent.

It’s important to monitor night time quality, because it will be the first indication of impending problems, as an early warning system for identifying Sewage Treatment Works (STWs) where performance is beginning to decline.

Figure 2 below shows the ammonia concentration for two sets of samples at the River Eden at Sheepmount, taken in 2014. Even though spot samples were taken at a higher frequency than normal (weekly rather than monthly), it can be seen that they still completely failed to detect the higher ammonia values that occurred during wet weather. It is unlikely that the high levels of ammonia would ever have been detected by routine spot samples.

Figure 2. Ammonia concentration for two sample sets at River Eden in 2014.

The failure of the current system is really important because action to address the problems can only be justified if there is clear evidence. With more of our rivers failing to meet “good ecological status” than 10 years ago, we need to break this cycle of producing expensive action plans that don’t lead to any action being taken because there isn’t enough information to justify regulating industry and agriculture or investing money.

The Agency responded to our challenge three years ago by launching a Strategic Monitoring Review. Its brief was to look afresh at the EA’s £70 – £80 million water monitoring programme, to see if it was fit for purpose and better integrate it with organisations like the river trusts, who hold vast quantities of data about water. We were delighted with this response and excited by the possibilities it offered. We were shown a presentation which included a collaborative process with external organisations, and a 12 – 18 month timetable for completion of the review.

Since then, we have frequently asked for updates on progress with the review, but without much luck. The manager leading the initiative moved off into another job and the promised meetings with other organisations in the sector were never held. This week, The Angling Trust met the relevant team and the signs were encouraging that the review is back on track, albeit about 2 years late.

This must be a collaborative process with the voluntary sector if the review objectives are to have any chance of being achieved. There is a danger that this could otherwise become simply a cost-cutting exercise.

Monitoring and investigations should be designed to make it possible for the Agency to take action to improve the environment. The EA could also save money by commissioning others to carry out monitoring at a fraction of the cost and with match funding support. Such fundamental change will need strong leadership from the top, otherwise the Agency will waste yet more precious public money and continue failing to stop the widespread ecological declines on our rivers and lakes.

Mark Lloyd
Chief Executive, Angling Trust & Fish Legal

Making a Great 25 Year Plan for the Environment

The Government is in full swing drafting a 25 Year Plan for the environment (again). If done properly, with legally binding targets and milestones, we have the potential for the most ambitious but deliverable opportunity for the environment we’ve had in many years. Environmental NGOs have been working together to try and ensure the plan fully delivers for nature.

From a water, aquatic, fish splashing, frogs croaking, otters swimming perspective we are seeking commitment to improving protection and management of the aquatic environment.

This includes:

Ambition – we welcome that salmon are once again swimming up rivers where they have been absent for years, but there is still a long way to go. Less than 20% of our rivers, lakes and groundwaters are at good ecological status. River basin management plans take us some way to improving the quality of our water bodies but we must not rely on them as the sole answer to water quality. The timeline for those plans goes up to 2027 and this is a 25 Year Plan. Let’s build on the plans, and set ambitious targets for water quality into the future. Let’s face the issue of diffuse pollution. Simple changes to planning and land management could have significant benefits and reduce the costs to society of water treatment, flooding and loss of biodiversity.

Monitoring – we are concerned about the potential severity of cuts to environmental monitoring and hence the ability to identify problems, implement solutions and ensure that the polluter pays. Long-term monitoring is important to understanding change. Government bodies  need data to make informed decisions, and this data collection requires resources and expertise. Environmental monitoring underpins good investment and apportionment of costs. There should also be a framework to enable the agencies to utilise third party data much more easily.

Integration and multiple benefits – funding often considers individual projects for too much water, too little water and water quality. Yet how we manage water using natural processes can do much more holistically. Re-meandering not only slows water down which reduces flooding, it can also locally increase low flows up to 15% [1]. Similarly, sustainable drainage systems can reduce surface water run-off and improve water quality and biodiversity as well as provide societal benefits; wetlands can be created which remove chemicals and sediment from water before it reaches a water course whilst also providing biodiversity benefit and slowing water down.

Let’s start thinking about managing water, rather than managing floods or drought or chemicals. Funding needs to incentivise delivery of multiple benefits from the inception of a project. It just doesn’t work if bolted on as an afterthought to tick a box. Strong regulation, incentives, new markets and new ways of working are all required. 

Natural Capital Accounting – we welcome a natural capital approach but alongside the following stipulations. There is a need to protect the environment because it is the right thing to do. Biodiversity loss is one of our biggest problems and one of the hardest things to monetise, but arguably the most important area to stop loss, protect and enhance. Assigning a monetary value is not always possible and sometimes we should protect the environment even if the pound signs do not add up. We also have to be careful that in putting monetary values on environmental services we do not bias investment towards easy wins, such as flood mitigation and carbon storage. The 25 Year Plan should include a set of biodiversity indicators and targets, separate from natural capital objectives.

Catchment based approach – we need to take a catchment based approach for integrated water management, from source to sea. Adequate monitoring is crucial to identify issues in catchments and understand where the most beneficial interventions will be. Opportunity mapping could help identify not only the issues in a catchment, but also how measures might act upon each other and who might benefit.

The plan needs to apply across Government. Without commitment from other departments such as Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government, DEFRA cannot achieve the Government’s ambition to leave the environment in a better state than it found it, even with the most ambitious plan.

The Government have promised that the 25 Year Plan will be a living document, but let’s make it as good as it can be from the start. We’ve been sharing our thoughts with Government and now there’s the opportunity for you too. Every day in Parliament, nature’s needs are drowned out by other louder voices. Now, with the future of our environment laws at stake, it’s #TimeToBeHeard. Please take the time to email your MP.

Hannah Freeman
Senior Government Affairs Officer, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust


Making the case for catchment management

The water industry, perhaps more than any other sector, can be highly impacted by what happens across the catchments in which companies operate. Diffuse water pollution from agriculture, for example, can pollute raw drinking water sources and necessitate costly treatment that uses energy and chemicals, whilst pollutants from multiple sources limit the capacity of waterways to accept discharges from waste water treatment works.

Our freshwater ecosystems require sufficient water to remain healthy, but abstraction for public supply, industry and irrigation for agriculture mean that water scarcity is prevalent in parts of the country, with climate change and population growth likely to exacerbate the problem. A collaborative approach is needed involving all sectors, in order to build resilience and embed a more sustainable approach to managing our water resources.

Water companies are already moving away from the historic focus on managing their own land and infrastructure, as the benefits of influencing management of water across the catchment are increasingly being recognised.

  • Schemes like South West Water’s Upstream Thinking and United Utilities’ (UU) SCaMP have led the way; UU’s scheme saw thousands of hectares of upland habitat restored, drainage channels blocked, and livestock numbers cut, bringing 98% of the SSSIs into favourable condition and realising improvements in water quality through reductions in colour, suspended solids and a reduced risk of cryptosporidium.
  • Severn Trent’s current Environmental Protection Scheme, STEPS, sees landowners being paid based not on what they do on their land, but on the actual water quality benefits delivered.
  • Wessex Water is using ‘reverse auctions’ to allow farmers to bid for funding to establish cover crops, preventing soil runoff over winter and reducing nutrient inputs into the river system, far more cost effectively than could be done by the company through other means.
  • Where Catchment Partnerships have played a role in these schemes; the value of this collaboration is notable (see pg5).

The 2019 Price Review (PR19) presents an opportunity to build upon all of this delivery. The case for catchment management to protect or improve water quality is clear, illustrated by the above examples and many others. The knock-on benefits are also potentially considerable; improved landowner relations and wider land management practices, biodiversity gains and reduced flood risk. The scope to extend catchment management to deliver water resources outcomes is also something that warrants much greater consideration. Many of the natural solutions to addressing flood risk that slow the movement of water through a catchment and reduce rapid runoff also help to augment baseflow in rivers during times of drought. Their low cost and high natural capital delivery compared to built infrastructure projects indicates a potential for much more widespread uptake of such approaches.

These interventions all require engagement with landowners, farmers, fisheries, and communities, making the potential value of Catchment Partnerships in this delivery clear. The Rivers Trusts, Wildlife Trusts, Catchment Sensitive Farming Officers, landowner or fisheries associations and others involved in the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) already have strong relationships with the very people that need to be engaged if such schemes are to be successfully delivered and maintained. The partnerships are also well placed to undertake biodiversity monitoring, scheme promotion and other aspects of delivery that may not be the traditional preserve of water companies.

The value of these partnerships is certainly something that not all companies have fully tapped in to, and PR19 should provide the catalyst for this to change. Indeed, the Catchment Based Approach, established to protect and enhance our water environment, should be increasingly seen by water companies as a key means of protecting the very resources upon which their businesses depend.

Ali Morse
Water Policy & Catchment Technical Specialist, The Wildlife Trusts


Rob Collins
Head of Policy and Science, The Rivers Trust

Unique Opportunity to Tackle Deepseated Failures in Water Management

Sometimes you read a statistic and have to read it again to ensure you read it right the first time.  Half of our freshwater wildlife species are in decline. That’s right: half of our freshwater wildlife species are in decline. Furthermore, 13% are at risk of extinction. Our rivers and lakes are in real trouble and we need to act urgently.

Hold on, I hear you say, I’m sure I read somewhere that our rivers are cleaner now than any time since the industrial revolution? It’s true that we have made progress in some areas: industrial and sewage pollution have been greatly reduced and many urban rivers are coming back to life.

However, these gains are set against an overall pattern of decline that was brought into sharp relief this week as I came to understand that the number of rivers achieving ‘Good Ecological Status’ in England has dropped from 17% to 14%. As long as we remain signed up to the Water Framework Directive (part of European Union legislation), we are under a legal obligation to get that figure to 75% by 2027. We haven’t a cat in hell’s chance of doing so unless we get our act together and start thinking really differently about the way that we manage water in this country.

This week, I chaired a Blueprint for Water meeting of Chief Executives of water companies, Cathryn Ross, the CEO of Ofwat, officials from the Environment Agency and Natural England and colleagues from the 18 Blueprint member organisations. The meeting launched our new campaign, Blueprint for PR19 (Price Review 2019). If you love healthy water environments, the Price Review process is a really important moment: it is when water companies set out their plans for the next 5 years (from 2019 onwards) and negotiate with Ofwat, the industry regulator, about how much they can charge customers, while also making a contribution to the objectives set by the Government’s environmental agencies.

Given that the companies will spend billions of pounds of our money in that period, which dwarfs the amount spent by government, it’s vital that we ensure those plans help to address the deep-seated failures in our water management system.

The meeting was held under Chatham House rules, so I won’t report what individuals said, but – and here’s the positive bit – there was a surprising and very welcome consensus in the room.  The highlights for me were as follows:

  • We need to take an innovative approach and scale up the things that have been shown to work at a local or regional level, such as universal metering, sustainable urban drainage systems and working with farmers to reduce pollution of rivers and water supplies.
  • The behaviour of people is a really important factor that we need to change. Millions of people put fat from frying pans, sanitary products and nappies down drains and toilets, which cause blockages in the system and sewage overflows. People also waste water and our per capita use puts us to shame compared to other European countries, which have more plentiful supplies.
  • The catchment based approach to planning action is vital for the successful management of water and we should work on a long term basis taking into account climate change, population growth and substantial house building programmes, which will put further stress on the system.

It was clear to me that everyone needs to wake up to the real crisis facing our water environment and the supplies on which our economy and lives depend. This isn’t something we can shrug about and get on with our lives any longer. Business as usual is not good enough.

I welcome the water companies’ commitment to addressing the real issues that were clear at the meeting. As citizens and bill payers, we need to press politicians and regulators to make the necessary decisions to support this and to allow them to invest in innovation and catchment management.

We are currently stumbling into another drought in much of the country, the one we had in 2012 that for a while endangered the success of the Olympics long having dropped off the political radar after several floods that cost the country billions. Meanwhile, half of our freshwater species, including many fish, continue to decline towards extinction, and we are all the poorer for that. The Angling Trust, backed by our membership and in partnership with colleagues in Blueprint organisations, will continue to make the case for fundamental reform of water management.

Please help by supporting us, sharing this blog, finding out how to use water and wastewater sensibly, and mentioning water to any politicians who knock on your door in the coming weeks.

Mark Lloyd
Chief Executive, Angling Trust and Fish Legal

Environmental Priorities for Future Water Company Investment

As the water companies in England and Wales sit down to draft their future investment plans for 2020-2025 (PR19) they are doing so at a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty. We must make sure that the environment does not become a casualty of confusion and that the plans will deliver for people and nature. Our Blueprint for PR19, launched today, sets out the priorities for the environment for PR19.

The Blueprint for Water coalition of 18 environment NGOs has been talking to the water companies, regulators and with the Government over the last year to share our ideas and inform our thinking on the environmental priorities for PR19. Our Blueprint for PR19 sets out these priorities.

Why are we interested?

The water companies in England and Wales are major players in the environment. They invest over £8bn per year on behalf of their customers – all of us. It is essential they play their part if we want to see healthy rivers, clean beaches and coastal waters, safe drinking water, less waste, reduced flooding and thriving wildlife. We certainly have work to do – the 2016 State of Nature report[i] found that 13% of our freshwater and wetland species are currently at risk of extinction and only 20% of water bodies in England and Wales are currently achieving ‘good ecological status'[ii].

What do we want to see?

We passionately believe that a healthy natural environment is at the heart of a resilient and successful water industry – an industry that can meet the needs of current and future customers and deal with the challenges we face, such as climate change and population growth.

Blueprint for PR19 sets out four headline outcomes we want to see achieved:

  1. Improving catchment management from source to sea;
  2. Stopping pollution of our waters;
  3. Using water wisely whilst pricing it fairly; and
  4. Keeping our rivers flowing and wetlands wet.

For each of these four outcomes, we have identified a number of specific priorities we want to see addressed in the plans. It also suggests how we might measure success.

Over the next month, we will be publishing a series of blogs from Blueprint coalition members and from the water sector on each of these outcomes…watch this space!

What can you do?

We are urging water companies to adopt our Blueprint for PR19 and you can do your part too.

The water companies will be engaging with stakeholders and customers over the next year to ensure their plans align with customer interests and priorities. So, please take the opportunity to have your say and stand up for nature. Check your water company’s website to see how you can engage and feel free to share or use the Blueprint for PR19.

Finally, if you want to find out how your company is performing, and how it compares with other companies, then take a look at this great new website

You can read a summary of our priorities or download the full Blueprint for PR19 publication.

Nathan Richardson, Senior Policy Officer, RSPB



[i] State of Nature 2016

[ii] River Basin Management Plans 2015

Water resilient cities and schools

Our urban environments face unprecedented challenges from climate change and increasing population. Our environment is becoming fragmented and our children are not enjoying the access to the natural environment they need. Making our cities greener and bluer can help our cities face these challenges and make their local places more resilient. One way we can do this is through sustainable drainage systems (SuDS).

Sustainable drainage systems can, if designed appropriately, benefit us in a wide variety of ways. For example, they reduce the risk of surface water flooding by slowing and reducing the flow of water, which runs off hard impermeable surfaces before it reaches the sewer. They can also improve the quality of that run off, removing polluting particles in the water as well as from the air, improving air quality. They can store carbon, provide habitat for wildlife and increase people’s health and well-being.

So why aren’t they everywhere?

Well, these benefits aren’t really seen as pounds and pence and they don’t accrue to any one person, business or even sector. They are societal benefits that diffuse across communities and as such there are limited drivers to install or retrofit SuDS into our urban spaces. There is also no current Government policy or driver around fitting SuDS into existing developments despite the many advantages.

We want to change this. There are real benefits to retrofitting SuDS. Today WWT and Business in the Community (BITC) launch a report that highlights these benefits and suggests one possible way forward.

WWT have been working with BITC and others, including Arup and MWH to produce this publication. Using the CIRIA Benefits of SuDS Tool (BeST) we indicate what the scale of a roll out of SuDS across Greater Manchester could look like.

We report that a roll out of SuDS across Greater Manchester should be cost beneficial and of good value. Societal and environmental benefits under our test case range from £4 million to around £50 million depending on the scale of the roll out. The greatest benefits accrue around mental well-being and education. However, important benefits, including flood risk reduction and water quality improvements, could not be quantified at this high level as they are so site dependent.

Together with BITC, we propose a pilot roll out of SuDS retrofit across Greater Manchester. A pilot would provide much-needed demonstration sites for schools, NHS sites and businesses in the North West. Societal and environmental benefits will accrue to communities and businesses across the roll out area. A pilot roll out would demonstrate the opportunities for flood risk mitigation in the urban environment and could aim to optimise other societal and environmental benefits. This should be led as a joint venture between government, the private and third sector, working through the Manchester Urban Pioneer. Alongside practical demonstration sites, the pilot should consider prospective sustainable funding options for such natural capital investment.

The Government promised to leave the environment in a better state than it found it. This doesn’t just mean the rural environment. Let’s make our urban spaces rich in bird song, buzzing bees, flowers, ponds and trees which everyone can enjoy. Let’s start making the connection and build SuDS for schools, for flood reduction, for healthier rivers, for communities, for cities, for the future.

Read WWT’s new report on SuDS.

Hannah Freeman, Senior Government Affairs Officer
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

The importance of our Natural Infrastructure

Prioritising the identification, protection and restoration of Natural Infrastructure provides a significant opportunity to realise the Government’s ambition of us being the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than which we found it.

In every parliament, the National Infrastructure Commission sets out their views about our long-term infrastructure needs in a National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA). Looking over a 30-year time horizon, they consider the demand and supply of infrastructure services and assets, such as roads or fibre optic cables, and make recommendations to government on how these needs are best met.

They consider major sectors including transport, energy, water & wastewater, and flood risk management – areas where projects could impact significantly upon the environment. What they don’t tend to consider is whether these sectors could in fact benefit from the services that our countryside and green spaces provide.

Continue reading “The importance of our Natural Infrastructure”

New website for customers to see how their water companies are performing

Water companies protect both the environment and the public by providing high quality water and sanitation services – and it is now much easier to track and compare their performance.

The water sector has launched comparative data on Discover Water – an online dashboard where you can see how companies across England and Wales are performing across a range of metrics, including the Environment Agency’s annual Environmental Protection Assessments and bathing water quality results.

Continue reading “New website for customers to see how their water companies are performing”