Pennon Group plc, the Exeter-based owner of South West Water, Bournemouth Water and Viridor, will be this year’s headline sponsor for the Western Morning News Business Awards.
The FTSE 250-listed utilities heavyweight, which is one of the largest environmental infrastructure groups in the UK and one of the biggest private employers in the region, has always been proud of its South West heritage and, alongside the Western Morning News and business bodies, has been instrumental over the past year in launching and promoting the #backthesouthwest campaign for regional growth.
Last autumn Pennon devised and delivered the first ever South West Growth Summit, which brought together the region’s business community, civic leaders, MPs, LEPs and academics, to develop a clear, distinctive voice for the region and agree how best to improve the region’s economic prospects. This was swiftly followed up with the presentation of the South West Growth Charter to Downing Street and the creation of the new South West Business Leaders’ Forum, designed to secure Government commitment in key areas such as transport infrastructure and digital connectivity.
As well as campaigning to get a better deal for the region, through its subsidiaries Pennon is providing vital water, wastewater and waste management services to homes and businesses in the South West and beyond. South West Water’s drinking water quality remains excellent and construction work is well underway on the new Mayflower Water Treatment Works which will use cutting-edge first-in-the-UK treatment technology to supply Plymouth and the surrounding area.
On wastewater, South West Water’s continuing investment has helped to transform the quality of the region’s bathing waters, with record results achieved in 2016, despite tougher new standards, and more Blue Flags than any other part of the UK. The company is also working with partners, including councils and landowners, to explore innovative ways to improve raw water quality and reduce the risk of pollution and flooding, for example through improved landscape management, as part of its Downstream and Upstream Thinking programmes. At the same time, average household bills are being pegged below inflation to 2020, with reduced or frozen bills in recent years.
Meanwhile, through Viridor, Pennon is a key player in the waste and resources sector. Thanks to its growing portfolio of Energy Recovery Facilities, residual waste that can’t be recycled is being diverted from landfill and converted into renewable electricity. One of the company’s campaigns, which hit the national headlines recently, addresses the issue of black plastic food packaging. More than 1.3 billion trays are needlessly sent to landfill each year due to the use of a black colour pigment which goes unrecognised by existing global recycling technologies. All so your lamb chops and broccoli heads can look appealing on the local supermarket shelf.