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Former Harland and Wolff Chief Executive tells Institute of Water conference, infrastructure is vital to Northern Ireland’s future success

27 June 2019 16:40

Sir John Parker delivered his key note speech to over 200 delegates at the annual Institute of Water conference in Titanic Conference Centre, Belfast, highlighting the significant investment the water industry has already made in infrastructure and how this has contributed to a healthy population, a thriving economy and a flourishing environment.

However, he also stressed that the lack of local investment, particularly in water and wastewater infrastructure, could have potentially devastating consequences on economic development and environmental protection; the importance of water and water infrastructure in Northern Ireland, as an economic enabler.

The 2-day conference comes at a significant time for NI Water as the company needs to invest £2.5 billion pounds of investment in the next Price Control Period PC21 – PC27.  This will be a huge boost, as every £1 invested has a £2.50 ripple effect on the economy. However, the questions around where this investment will come from and if local government will commit to its share of the investment, remain unanswered.

Hosted by Sara Venning, Institute of Water President Elect and Chief Executive Officer of Northern Ireland Water, the conference is a key networking event in the UK water industry calendar, carrying the theme of ‘How Disruption is Transforming the Water Sector’. 

Changes to the environment, pollution and digital advances with the emergence of new technologies, are causing what is being described as ‘disruption,’ to populations around the world. The conference gave delegates a chance to explore this and what businesses and water companies can do to address it.

Environmental and ethical issues were high on the agenda with a presentation by Presenter for the BBC's 'The One Show' and columnist for the Observer, Lucy Siegle sharing her perspectives with delegates.

The global problem of plastic and what water companies are doing to manage this was also considered. The topic was timely, with NI Water recently launching a campaign, ‘Refillution,’ to address the 145 million single use plastic bottles we use in Northern Ireland every year.

Robotics and how future technologies can continue to benefit Northern Ireland Water’s customers while continuing to protect the environment was also examined; as digital enhancements develop, it’s predicted that the future of customer service will be revolutionised.

Chaired by Wendy Austin MBE, presenter of the BBC’s Inside Business programme, there were fantastic opportunities for delegates to network with speakers from businesses including Fujitsu and PwC.

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Notes to Editors:
The conference was kindly sponsored by a number of businesses:
Kier, Graham, Atkins, Arup, Meridian Utilities, Neueda

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