Review of the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP)

Closed 16 Sep 2021

Opened 22 Jul 2021

Results updated 11 May 2022


We wanted to hear your views on our review of the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP) ahead of the next price review in 2024 (PR24).

Our aim is to deliver greater environmental benefits for every pound invested by water companies by using a more outcomes-based approach. Our review was carried out in partnership with Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) with valuable support from other organisations including water companies, CCW, the Drinking Water Inspectorate and environmental non-government organisations (eNGOs).

Our consultation explained the proposals for redesigning the WINEP and encouraged your feedback on these proposals, known as the ‘WINEP methodology’.

We described how the proposed WINEP development process would work for the next WINEP planning cycle starting in 2022.

We also set out wider considerations for the Government, regulators, and water companies to achieve the ambitions of the review by outlining what actions are required to ensure the proposals for change happen.

How we ran the consultation

Our consultation ran for 12 weeks from 22 July 2021 to 16 September 2021 on GOV.UK and on our consultation platform Citizen Space.

Alongside the consultation, we carried out a range of wider activities to engage with you:

  • a press briefing was issued to local and trade media
  • our consultation was promoted on our social media channels
  • our consultation was promoted through our partners including the eNGO community through Blueprint for Water.
  • we offered to receive consultation responses through the e-consultation tool or through email.

We received 40 responses, which we have used to develop the WINEP roadmap, methodology and supporting documents.

While the coronavirus pandemic restrictions have limited our ability to consult in person, we are confident we have given organisations and the public an accessible opportunity to give their views.

Summary of key findings and actions we will take

Our development of the WINEP methodology has been informed by your responses to the 7 consultation proposals. You can find further detail in our consultation response document.

Proposal 1: To introduce a tiered approach for including schemes in the water industry national environment programme

There is widespread support for the ambition to innovate and develop solutions that will result in higher-level environmental outcomes, especially the focus on outcomes and goals.

The 3-tiered outcomes approach in the WINEP methodology clearly describes the water company’s contribution to an outcome and links to the expectations set out in our, and Natural England’s, water industry strategic environmental requirements (WISER) guidance published in 2022.

Proposal 2: To better incorporate long-term planning in the development of the water industry national environment programme

The overall response to extend the planning horizon to 10 years and beyond was generally positive and supported. Many eNGOs believe the longer planning horizon will benefit the environment and allow for more innovation of nature-based solutions. Extending the horizon beyond 10 years may create even greater benefits.  

To ensure the programme of environmental action that water companies propose considers the long term, the time horizon for the WINEP will be extended to 25 years.

Proposal 3: To clearly establish dependencies between the water industry national environment programme and other statutory planning frameworks

Your responses reflected the complexity of aligning strategic plans including recognition of the different timescales, scales, objectives, and priorities of the various strategic plans. Overall, the comments reflected the need for strong links between the plans.

The WINEP methodology sets out the role of the WINEP in delivering outcomes from other statutory planning frameworks.

Proposal 4: To increase the use of catchment and nature-based solutions

Generally, there was widespread support for encouraging greater uptake of catchment and nature-based solutions (C&NBS). Some respondents felt the methodology did not go far enough and that C&NBS should be the default solution. You asked us to consider how we could remove any barriers to using C&NBS. You raised concerns about the uncertainty of the effectiveness of C&NBS, the timing and other technical issues.

The WINEP methodology sets out that there should be a clear commitment to pursue C&NBS wherever they can deliver all or part of the required environmental outcome.

Proposal 5: To take account of wider environmental outcomes when deciding on solutions in the water industry national environment programme

There was broad support for the four wider environmental outcomes but only limited support for the proposed approach to the prioritisation of them. A common theme supported climate change mitigation and adaptation, including a focus on catchment resilience, to be at the centre of the new approach. ​

In the WINEP methodology all four wider environmental outcomes will be considered equally. However, access, amenity, and engagement should not be a significant driver of costs in proposed options, nor a significant driver of the benefits when assessing which options to implement.

Proposal 6: To increase water company involvement in the water industry national environment programme development process

There was broad support for the WINEP methodology and its aim to increase water company involvement in the development process. Your responses highlighted the role water companies can play contributing their own ideas, defining the outcomes, engaging with customers and stakeholders, and enhancing actions. However, you raised concerns that it will be a significant challenge to co-develop WINEP solutions for PR24 in the timescales required whilst aligning with potential partner organisations including agreeing co-funding and delivery on a widespread basis.

 The WINEP methodology sets out how water companies should work collaboratively with us, Natural England, and other stakeholders.

Proposal 7: To increase involvement of other organisations and external funding in the water industry national environment programme development process

Increased collaboration is not a new message, but many of you mentioned the need for a broader environment programme that goes beyond the water industry. There was support for a much greater role for co-funding of environmental improvements in the WINEP and a general view that this may act as a spur for action. However, views were mixed on whether setting a target for co-funding would help meet this ambition.

The WINEP methodology sets out that water companies should consider WINEP options that are co-designed, co-delivered and co-funded, working towards an aspirational target of at least 20% co-funding of non-statutory actions and seek further co-funding beyond this level at their discretion. We will measure progress against this ambition for PR24.

Next Steps

Together with Defra and Ofwat, the WINEP methodology and supporting documents, and the roadmap for long term WINEP development, have been finalised taking into account your consultation responses.

The roadmap for long term WINEP improvement is available on GOV.UK

The WINEP methodology is available on GOV.UK.

Should you want to follow up on your response or require further information please contact us at


Thank you for participating in our consultation.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


Welcome to the consultation pages for the review of the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP).

The WINEP is a programme of actions that water companies will undertake to improve the environment. The actions included in a water company’s WINEP reflect the company’s obligations arising from environmental legislation such as Urban Wastewater Treatment Regulations, Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations, Bathing Waters Regulations, and Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations. The WINEP may also contain non-statutory actions.

Water companies include these actions in their business plans so that they can be funded through customer water bills.

The WINEP is currently developed by us and Natural England in consultation with water companies. It focusses on the actions that are required to meet new environmental obligations, or existing environmental obligations where evidence or investigations show that action needs to be undertaken. 

Through the WINEP, water companies have played a crucial role in protecting and enhancing the water environment. The WINEP, and its predecessor the National Environment Programme (NEP), has been the main mechanism for improving the state of the water environment since 1995.

However, despite continued significant investment from water companies, increasing pressures from harmful pollutants, a growing population, and climate change are reducing the effectiveness of the investments made through the WINEP.

These pressures are only likely to increase in future. It is important that we understand how the WINEP can be updated to ensure that every pound invested from customers’ water bills is delivering greater benefits for the environment. Ultimately this will help us to deliver a much-needed step change in the state of the environment.

The following pages sets out our ambition and proposals for long term change to the WINEP.

Each page introduces a proposal we would like your feedback on, as well as providing room for any further comments at the end.

The detailed approach to implementing the proposed changes can be found in the accompanying draft WINEP methodology. 

If you are unfamiliar with any of the terms used in the consultation, you can find a definition of terms Appendix 1 of the draft WINEP methodology. 

Why your views matter

We are seeking your views on the review of the WINEP.

We will use responses to the consultation to revise the WINEP methodology and WINEP roadmap which sets out our plans for long term change.

This information will help ensure the WINEP is developed and delivered consistently across England.  

We will publish the final version of the WINEP methodology and WINEP roadmap in Autumn 2021.

What happens next

Our consultation is now closed. Thank you for your comments and feedback.


  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Fishing clubs and representative associations
  • Members of the public with an interest in the river, the species and conservation
  • Businesses
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