AWMS comment: Q3 2016

Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) is BMBI’s Expert for Civils, Metal Rainwater & Drainage.

The Civils market was flat to slightly down in Q3, but metal rainwater & drainage grew by around 5%.

Hinkley Power Station and Heathrow’s runway will boost construction, and forecasts for infrastructure in the next 5 years are positive. In the short term, fluctuating post-referendum exchange rates and raw material price increases are the key challenges. Will Mr Trump’s election help sterling recover and moderate future price increases?

The growing threat of skilled labour shortages will run and run. Without prompt action by industry and Government, skills shortages will be a drag on project timelines. It’s an opportunity and stimulus to innovative manufacturers to develop new low-skill modular products that are easy and quick to fit, and don’t require multiple trades to install. There are also new opportunities for products that improve flood resilience and protect properties from the increased risk of flooding.

Our climate is getting warmer, windier and wetter. Government lists water as one of the big six threats to Britain’s future. Yet no one is doing enough to prepare for the effects of a lot more water in the built environment. Why isn’t Government acting with more urgency?

Flash floods and frequent flooding cause massive damage and disruption to homes, businesses, transport, communications, power and gas supply. Flood defences are overwhelmed regularly and ageing sewers fail to cope with excess surface water. Our buildings and infrastructure aren’t built to deal with today’s let alone tomorrow’s climate. More urbanisation makes it worse.

Improving flood resilience across the built environment is complicated. It requires realistic funding to improve defences in and around buildings, and new engineered solutions that channel water more effectively to the water course.

There are few incentives for local authorities, businesses or homeowners to improve flood resilience when replacing or repairing damaged buildings, and the UK needs a committed, clear SuDS policy. This can only happen if organisations and companies across construction and the supply chain join to integrate our response to water management and propose workable solutions. No single organisation has all the expertise, answers or resources, but the industry has the in-depth practical and technical expertise to engage Government to take urgent action.

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