AWMS Comment: Q4 2019

John Coe, Commercial Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) is BMBI’s Expert for Metal Rainwater & Drainage.

With greater political stability, after the General Election, consumer and business confidence have bounced back, and some areas of construction are starting to feel the effects. The UK Construction PMI Report reports ‘construction companies…now the most optimistic about their growth prospects since April 2018.’ However, not knowing the details and consequences of a Brexit deal are weighing on people’s minds in construction.

In contrast to the housing sector, the civil engineering index has not reflected the same positive outlook. In the last quarter we saw very healthy enquiry levels which suggested work in the pipeline, but it’s too early to see evidence of these coming through.

At the beginning of the year, we saw flooding in the UK with the arrival of Storm Ciara. As I write, we’re anticipating the arrival of Storm Dennis, threatening fresh damage to newly damaged infrastructure. In Yorkshire, the debate continues over flood alleviation schemes which have yet to be completed, and the effectiveness (or not) of completed schemes.

Nationally, our response is still too little, too localised and too slow: fixing the effects of the last flood in the most vulnerable areas, rather than preparing realistically to prevent damage from future flooding. The climate is changing faster than we are as a country.

Water finds the gaps in defences, so a localised response is vulnerable to action or non-action upstream. Britain needs joined-up solutions for water management from individual properties to larger communities: managing from ‘rain to drain’.

The challenge is to widen the understanding of ‘water thinking’ beyond the expert voice of the industry to MPs, Government, planners, developers and the media, as well as the general public. AWMS welcomes the new sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) regulations which are coming into force in April 2020. These should boost the use of such schemes by developers, but the country also needs stronger, more sustained action to change the way everyone thinks about water. With forecasts of rising sea levels and more extreme weather, water is almost certainly Britain’s biggest challenge.

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.

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