The former Labour MP and Environment Agency chairman will be replaced at UKWP by Conservative MP Richard Benyon, who previously served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at Defra.

Newbury MP Benyon will take up the role of UK Water Partnership chairman on 10 October.

It is understood Lord Smith stepped down to focus on other responsibilities which include chairing the Advertising Standards Authority and taking up a new role as master of Pembroke College in Cambridge.

A UKWP spokesperson told edie: “Chris has helped to shape and launch the UKWP and we are very grateful for his support over the last year. He remains very committed to the aims and goals of the UKWP.”

‘Real strides’

The UKWP was launched in March, with Lord Smith proclaiming at the time “there is nothing more important than water”. The body was formed to bring together public and private-sector organisations; to stimulate ideas and develop the products and services that will take on the challenge of global water scarcity. 

On his replacement, Lord Smith said: “Since its launch in March 2015, the partnership has made real strides in bringing together the many water research, industry and user communities to help focus their efforts toward innovation, growth and export opportunities. Richard has great experience in this area and I am very pleased to see the partnership moving ahead in such good hands.”

New UKWP chairman Benyon said: “Lord Chris Smith has done an outstanding job in helping to launch the organisation and he leaves a great legacy. I am delighted to be able to build on his success and take up the task of maintaining the momentum we’ve seen so far, especially at such an important time for the industry.”

Action plan

Commenting on the change, current Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defra, Rory Stewart, said: “I am really delighted that Richard Benyon has taken the role of Chairman of the UK Water Partnership. I’d like to thank Lord Smith for his excellent work. Richard’s energy and integrity will really help us promote UK leadership in water technology here and abroad.”

Upon its launch, the not-for-profit UKWP identified several short-term areas for action including developing a catalogue of UK capabilities in water services and products; driving research and innovation in key areas including ‘water and agriculture’ and ‘water and cities’; and hosting a major international showcase covering the UK’s research and market capabilities.

An array of public and private-sector organisations have already expressed their support for the UKWP including Severn Trent, the Met Office, InnovateUK and Defra. The Partnership aims to add new members from across the water technology, services and research communities.

Luke Nicholls

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