Once the biggest thorn in Ofwat’s side, Feargal Sharkey’s new appointment as Chairman of England and Wales’ water regulator has sent waves of panic through the nation’s water companies.
Avid followers of the UK’s water sector will be familiar with the longstanding feud between Feargal and his slippery adversary, Ofwat. The industry has been left shocked with many environmental organisations delighted, and slightly amused as Feargal takes on the lead role of an organisation that he has so vocally criticised.
We’ve been catching up with Feargal today, who explains that “It was an offer that I simply could not refuse. This is the perfect opportunity to flip this dysfunctional system on its head and turn it into a regulator that actually regulates. I would be a fool not to accept”.
Ofwat has become increasingly concerned by the mounting negative public opinion of the industry it regulates, recognising the need for a radical structural rethink.
With discharges of raw sewage into rivers happening in plain sight, and shocking data delivered daily, a source within Ofwat admitted that “we are up the creek without a loo roll”. Ofwat hope that Feargal will not only be able to paddle them out of their mess, but captain them into calmer, and much cleaner, waters.
Today’s news was widely welcomed by environmental campaign groups. James Wallace, CEO of River Action said: “Feargal’s appointment will flush the waste from the system, bringing a new wave of ambition that will see Ofwat focus on protecting people and the planet rather than profiteering polluters. He will address the freshwater emergency with the urgency it deserves rather than pussyfoot around government ministers’ endless game of poo-sticks.”