Water White Paper must address ‘blight’ of AMP cycles says EIC

The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has launched a lobbying campaign ahead of the much-anticipated Water White Paper to ensure it's not "an opportunity wasted".

The campaign, launched yesterday, calls on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to put job retention centre stage, particularly in the ‘boom and bust’ framework of the five-year Asset Management Period (AMP) system.

The current five-year cycle model creates, “an intense three-year period in the middle… with a markedly reduced spend in the first and final year”, argues the EIC. This model has been “devastating and debilitating” it continues, causing regular and widespread job losses and, perhaps more worryingly, a migration of skilled workers to other sectors, exacerbating a widening skills gap.

EIC points to Defra’s own review of regulator Ofwat, published earlier this year, which said: “it is bizarre that such a long-term stable industry with relatively consistent supply and demand has such a cyclical pattern of investment.”

The EIC campaign seeks to ensure the Water White Paper stipulates measures to counter this, such as disaggregating the AMP cycles of the clean water and wastewater companies and “ensuring that Ofwat is truly responsible for maintaining the sustainability of the industry, including the promotion of employment”.

EIC executive chairman Adrian Wilkes explained: “”EIC has lobbied hard on the detrimental effects of the AMP-cycle for many, many years. We welcomed the Coalition’s commitment to publish a Water White Paper to ensure that in the face of Ofwat inertia the industry is fit for the future, but it is now vital that it is not an opportunity wasted. The Water Industry’s supply chain has been blighted for over twenty years by this problem, and the White Paper must be used as a driver for change. There is too much at stake to let this opportunity pass us by – if we fail, we may not see another opportunity like this for at least another decade or more.”

Will Parsons

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