The Sustainable Solutions for Water and Nature (SSWAN) partnership has published an outline of a new model and discussion paper for regulation of the water environment.

The new SSWAN model shifts regulation towards catchment-based approaches to support cheaper, more innovative, more collaborative projects that more accurately reflect local priorities.

SSWAN proposes a four-tier regulatory framework:

Government: sets national policies and targets.

Regulators: accountable for ensuring the delivery of the outcomes set by government. They would regulate outcomes in individual water catchments, with localised targets tailored to individual catchments and reflecting local needs.

Catchment Advisory Boards (CABs): ensure the local objectives reflect local priorities, empowering local government and communities to provide tailored guidance to the regulators.

Joint Area Teams (JAT): determine catchment-specific short and long-term outcomes, setting targets and defining the monitoring requirements for each catchment.

This new model will enable a fundamentally different way of working and has the potential to unlock innovation and improve partnership collaboration. The potential benefits are substantial.

It goes onto argue that a new parliament should initiate regulatory reform to:

  1. Set river health targets at a national and catchment scale, ensuring the policy levers and incentives are in place to reduce pollutants and deliver targets locally.
  2. Link investment and targets across water quality, nature recovery, carbon, and climate to create new sources of funding.
  3. Ensure pollution is accurately apportioned to those responsible with detailed and transparent monitoring carried out by public bodies.
  4. Establish independent Catchment Advisory Boards to facilitate local decision making and deliver targets efficiently.
  5. Resource the regulators to drive compliance and sufficient investment in the water system, using existing enforcement tools.
  6. Set a framework to deliver long-term resilience, established by an independent body, and requiring water companies and regulators to deliver against the framework.

The SSWAN partners are: Green Alliance, the RSPB, The Rivers Trust, Wessex Water, The Wildlife Trusts, CIWEM, The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Sustainability First and Water UK. The proposal is to replace the current sector-specific siloed approach with a new framework which works at catchment-scale, brings sectors together under a common framework, and champions natural solutions.

No Comment

Comments are closed.