Water Resources South East has established two new, independently chaired, forums to help in its delivery of the sector’s first Multi Sector Regional Resilience Plan in 2023
The regional group, which is made up of the six South East water companies, has formed a group dedicated to working with it on the environmental aspects of the plan and a group that brings together the main water using sectors across the region to ensure their needs are embedded.
Achieving a level of environmental ambition that meets the expectations of customers and stakeholders, which is supported by regulators and government, is one of the critical challenges for the regional plan. It is recognised that more protection may need to be given to the environment, particularly chalk streams, to ensure that these habitats can adapt to a changing climate.
Dr Richard Benwell will chair this key forum from the 1st July. Richard is CEO of the Countryside and Wildlife link – the UK’s largest environmental coalition in England, with 58 member organisations. Richard has also held a series of influential positions in the civil service, House of Commons Commission, and the environmental movement. Most recently, as policy adviser to the Secretary of State at Defra, he contributed to the development of the Department's three flagship bills: the Environment Bill, the Agriculture Bill and the Fisheries Bill.
Dr Richard Benwell, said: “The South East of England is home to some of the country’s most iconic and yet incredibly vulnerable natural environments. The water sector is in a unique position to leave a legacy we can all be proud of – but this requires genuine collaboration across companies, stakeholders, regulators and government to enable change. My ambition for this group is to be a catalyst for good and that we do all we can to create a better environment for everyone.”
The multi-sector group will support the innovative approach WRSE is taking to incorporate other water using sectors within a single regional resilience plan. It will enable an integrated approach to resilience planning to be taken, across sectors that have their own water supplies and are not served by water companies. This will enable more efficient and effective delivery of investment to protect the water needs of society, the wider economy, and a more sustainable relationship with the environment.
Alan Turner will chair this group as an independent from the 24 June. Alan is a well-known and respected figure in the South East through his role at Kent County Council and is ideally placed to help bring multiple interests together. Alan said: “This commitment to develop an integrated Resilience Plan across multiple sectors for the South East is a great step forward. For too long we have planned in sector-based silos. This group and its contribution to the plan will be to facilitate an integrated approach to multi sector planning to deliver both enhanced resilience and more efficient and effective investment for the benefit of all.”
The groups are part of WRSE’s wider programme of stakeholder participation, which will step-up over the coming months. This will include engagement with a range of regional organisations with a role in promoting growth and supporting the economy to ensure that the plan addresses the wider needs of society.