Water UK’s new chief executive is Christine McGourty, who will join the water and sewerage industry’s trade body on 16th December 2019.
Christine has extensive experience in regulated industries and trade bodies, leading the corporate affairs functions at Centrica, British Gas and Energy UK, as well as serving as a non-executive board member at Smart Energy GB. Her most recent role was as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at FTSE-listed engineering and technology company Laird plc.
Prior to entering the corporate world Christine was a journalist for more than 20 years, including reporting on science, technology and environmental issues for the BBC and the Daily Telegraph.
Sir Brian Bender, Chairman of Water UK, said: “We are delighted to get someone with Christine’s first-class experience in regulatory and policy issues both nationally and internationally, as well as her undoubted leadership abilities. She is exactly the right fit to take the trade body forward as we move into a new 5-year business period for the industry. It’s a pivotal time for us, particularly as we start delivering on increasing the rate of leakage reduction, eradicating water poverty, cutting plastic waste, reaching net zero emissions by 2030 and being the first sector with 100% sign-up to the Social Mobility Pledge.”
Commenting on her appointment, Christine McGourty said: “This is a fascinating time to be joining the water industry, with the sector playing an increasingly important role in combatting climate change, stepping up the fight on plastic waste, and making sure customers continue to get the world-class quality water they deserve at a price they can afford. The industry has set out an ambitious programme to increase investment, cut leakage and improve the environment, and I look forward to working with all of the water and wastewater companies to address the challenges ahead.”
Christine McGourty is taking over from Michael Roberts, who is stepping down as chief executive after four years in the role.
The water and sewerage industry in England agreed a Public Interest Commitment in April 2019, strengthening their ongoing commitment to work in the public interest and place wider good at the heart of everything they do. The companies agreed a series of pledges which complements their individual business plans by showing leadership at a national level.
The sector will champion measures through which water companies can enshrine what it means to operate in the public interest within their business purpose, in line with best practice among leading socially-responsible businesses. This could include steps such as amending licences or Articles of Association.
Over the last 30 years, private water companies have brought major benefits to consumers and the environment alike. As the industry looks ahead to the next 30 years companies recognise that customers and stakeholders expect them to do more. The aim of the sector is to work together, and with independent external bodies, to meet these high expectations.
As part of the Public Interest Commitment water companies have also agreed to work together towards five challenging goals:
• Triple the rate of leakage reduction across the sector by 2030
• Make bills affordable as a minimum for all households with water and sewerage bills more than 5% of their disposable income by 2030 and develop a strategy to end water poverty
• Achieve net zero carbon emissions for the sector by 2030
• Prevent the equivalent of 4 billion plastic bottles ending up as waste by 2030
• Be the first sector to achieve 100% commitment to the Social Mobility Pledge
A programme of work to help achieve each of the above goals is being led by members of the Water UK board, and an independent panel is being established to report annually on how well the sector is performing collectively.