Today, Anglian Water has announced fundamental changes to its Articles of Association – a legally binding document which governs how the business will be run. These changes formally enshrine public interest within the constitutional make up of the business. Chief Executive Peter Simpson explains why this is a significant step forward for the company:
Earlier this year, the water industry came together to announce its Public Interest Commitment - our pledge as an industry to deliver wider benefits to society, above and beyond the provision of clean, fresh drinking water and effective treatment of used water.
Much of the work involved in delivering this commitment simply continues what we’re already doing here at Anglian Water. For instance, being named Responsible Business of the Year in 2017, or our on-going work in Wisbech and Lowestoft.
Today, however, I’m pleased to say that we’ve taken a significant new step in this journey.
Our main Board, in conjunction with our shareholders, have approved a fundamental change to our company Articles of Association, legally enshrining public interest within the constitutional make up of our business. I’m also proud to say that Anglian Water is the first water company – and I believe the first utility – to make these changes, firmly embedding our commitment in the core documents that govern the overall management of our business.
Our Board also intends to sign up to a set of Responsible Business Principles, against which we will report our performance. We will, each year, publish a statement which sets out how we are doing in relation to key environmental, social and ethical activities that going far beyond our financial obligations.
This means our reporting will be aligned with best practice reporting standards across Europe, where Public Interest Entities are required to publish a non-financial reporting statement. Although water companies are not defined by the UK government as Public Interest Entities, we’re aligning ourselves with these companies, in recognition of the high standards it ensures.
For years we’ve operated diligently in the background, striving to minimise our impact on the environment while positively contributing to communities. Today’s change marks a new era that codifies that approach, ensuring all future owners and investors will be obligated to work in the same way, and giving regulators, stakeholders and customers the confidence that this is simply how we work.
The bar is set high (and appropriately so) for us as providers of an essential public service. This change should signal that we are very comfortable with those high expectations, and will always seek to exceed them.