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UTILITY Week 14th October 2016

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8 | 14TH - 20TH OCTOBER 2016 | UTILITY WEEK Policy & Regulation This week Framework for water 'needs to change' Wics chief executive says a 'forward look' is needed to address companies' common problems The regulatory framework for the water sector "will need to change" to address common problems faced by companies in both England and Scotland, according to Water Industry Commission for Scotland (Wics) chief executive Alan Sutherland. Speaking at WWT's Water Scotland conference, Sutherland said it is "easy to be down on industry". "It's always easy for a regulator to just get out a ham- mer or a stick, and I don't think that's very helpful," he said. "What we've got to do is focus on a forward look. "The whole regulatory framework is going to need to change – and that doesn't mean lots of markets or any of that. What it will mean is there are some really big com- mon problems that are going to have to be addressed." Asked if he thought the industry was doing enough to adapt to a "digital age", Sutherland replied: "If we say 'we're not very good at this' or 'we're analogue rather than digital', that's not the right thought. "The thought we should be having is 'how are we going to sensibly work together to resolve these problems?' Because if we don't do that, then we're going to be in trouble." Sutherland's comments were in response to one made by Ofwat chief executive Cathryn Ross when the English water regulator published its cost-benefit analy- sis for competition in the household retail market. At the time, Ross said: "The uncomfortable truth is that, when it comes to retail offers, water companies provide an analogue service in a digital age." LV GAS Government overrules council on fracking The government has given the go-ahead to fracking in Lan- cashire, overruling a planning decision by the local council. Communities secretary Sajid Javid has upheld an appeal made by Cuadrilla in February against the decision by Lancashire County Council to refuse permis- sion to carry out hydraulic frac- turing at two sites in the region. In a letter to a lawyer repre- senting the drilling company, Javid said it will be allowed to drill and then fracture four exploratory wells at its site on Preston New Road, subject to conditions. However, he said a decision on its application for another four wells at its Roseacre Wood site had been deferred. A report by the planning inspector had recommended the Preston New Road application be approved but the Roseacre Wood application refused because of concerns over traffic. WATER Sector must 'hold Sepa to account' The Scottish water sector must "hold the Scottish Environment Protection Agency [Sepa] to account" to make sure it changes as it said it would, Sepa chief executive Terry A'Hearn has said. Speaking at WWT's Water Scotland conference, A'Hearn said the regulator is changing the way it works and will create specific sector teams, more clear dedicated company client man- agers, and streamlined permits. "I can't stand here and say to you as people who work in the water sector that minor improve- ments are not enough, unless we fundamentally change what we do so that our regulatory interaction facilitates the sort of step-change innovation that you're looking to make," he told delegates. "So you need to hold us to account." WATER Ofwat postpones new charging rules Ofwat has postponed the imple- mentation of the new charging rules for new connection ser- vices provided by English water firms, to give them more time to consult with their customers. The regulator said the new charging framework will now not be implemented from April 2017, but that it is considering introducing it from April 2018. The rules for new connec- tion services will cover charges by English water companies to developers and other customers for: connections with water mains and public sewers; the provision of new water mains, public sewers and lateral drains; and pipe diversions. Sutherland: 'there are big common problems' Political Agenda Mathew Beech "Can Corbyn fill a full shadow ministerial team?" Fresh from seeing off the chal- lenge of Owen Smith, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has begun chopping and changing his shadow cabinet. Barry Gardiner, who was almost the entire shadow cabi- net – filling three roles simulta- neously – has been reined back into a shadow BEIS role, but he retains a shadow cabinet place by staying on as shadow interna- tional trade secretary. Into his business and energy place comes Clive Lewis, who byn and large swathes of the par- liamentary Labour party remains obvious, as the reshuffle crawls on with, at the time of going to print, a number of junior minis- terial roles still to be filled. Reshuffles are usually a time to freshen up the top team, and for the leader to build and boost their support base. With doubts over whether he can fill a full shadow ministerial team, Corbyn still appears to be labouring to win support from the backbenches. has been shied sideways from shadow defence secretary. Lewis, who is seen as one of Corbyn's potential successors, has been kept in a high-profile role – possibly to prevent another leadership bid. It is also a marker of how high the busi- ness and energy brief now is. Plus, Lewis was a junior minister in shadow Decc under Lisa Nandy. Alan Whitehead regains a shadow energy minister brief. In shadow Defra HQ, Rachael Maskell continues in the role she picked up in June following the wave of post-Brexit, anti-Corbyn resignations and remains as shadow environment secretary. The bad blood between Cor-

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