Hydro Nation Forum minutes: June 2017

Minutes from the meeting of the Hydro Nation Forum in June 2017.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance

  • Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (Chair)
  • Barry Greig (BG), Scottish Government (Vice Chair)
  • Craig McGill (CM), Scottish Government
  • Dr Michael Gormley (MG), Heriot Watt University
  • Rachel Helliwell (RH), James Hutton Institute
  • Prof. Robert Kalin (RK), Strathclyde University
  • Neil Kitching (NK), Scottish Enterprise
  • Alan Sutherland (AS), Water Industry Commission Scotland
  • Jim Panton (JP), CEO Panton McLeod Ltd & Chair of Institute of Water (Scotland)
  • Barbara Barbarito (BB), Scottish Water
  • Allan Reid (AR), SEPA
  • Gail Walker (GW), Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Prof Alan MacDonald (AM), British Geological Survey
  • Diane Duncan (DD), Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Chrysoula Pantsi (CP), Edinburgh Napier University
  • Dr Howard Dryden (HD), Dryden Aqua
  • Juan Carlos Sanchez (JCS), Hydro Nation Scholar
  • Christopher Schulz (CS), Hydro Nation Scholar
  • Nazli Koseoglu (NKu), Hydro Nation Scholar
  • Ben McIntosh-Michaelis (BM), Strathclyde University


  • Bob Ferrier, James Hutton Institute
  • Simon Parsons, Scottish Water
  • Steve Dunlop, Scottish Canals
  • Jan Reid, Scottish Enterprise
  • Campbell Gemmell, University of Glasgow
  • Alan Simpson, Chairman of the Institute of Civil Engineers
  • Professor George Fleming, EnviroCentre
  • Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of SEPA

Items and actions

Item 1 - Introduction and Opening Remarks

The Chair welcomed members to the 10th meeting of the Forum and thanked MG for hosting the meeting at Heriot-Watt University. The Chair noted that minutes of the previous meeting in January 2017 had been agreed with the Forum and were published on the Water Industry pages of the SG website.

The Chair noted that Prof Gordon Hughes had recently stood down from his position at WICS and is replaced by Donald MacRae on an interim basis. AS represented WICS at the meeting. She also noted that Councillor Stephen Hagan, Spokesperson for the Environment and Regeneration Team at COSLA had stepped down owing to the Local Government elections.

The Chair introduced two new members of the panel, Jim Panton and Gail Walker who each provided the Forum with an introduction into the work that they are involved in.

Item 2 – Introduction to Heriot-Watt Water Academy

The Chair introduced Dr Michael Gormley, Director of Heriot-Watt’s Water Academy. MG provided a presentation on the work of the Academy to the Forum.

Item 3 – Revised Hydro Nation Strategy

The Chair introduced changes to the strategy which had been developed following discussion at the prior Forum meeting. The Chair drew the Forum’s attention to the main changes in the document including (1) updates on our International activity in Malawi to reflect an extension of the scope of work; (2) updates on our international activity in India to reflect progress in delivering the commitment to developing collaborative technology projects; (3) more detail on Hydro Nation International (HNI); and (4) more detail on Hydro Nation Commercial and Advisory Services (HNCAS – working title). The Chair passed to BG to explain further.

BG advised that the strategy had been amended to focus on the 4 key thematic priorities agreed by the Forum. BG noted that there was overlap, that no theme was more important than the other, though particular focus must be on ‘National’ e.g. Rural Provision. BG noted that SG, along with SEPA/SW/WICS are collectively developing commercial services and that he will shortly submit a paper to the HN Commercial stakeholder group setting out proposals for appropriate structures to support this development.

On Hydro Nation International, RH noted that the James Hutton Institute was now managing a portfolio of International HN research Projects and were looking to develop further opportunities. Further work had been done in mapping the Water sector within Scotland, intended to support a consistent and coherent approach and allow collaboration with the research communities. BG noted that a related strand of activity was exploring how to maximise the value of the UNESCO Centre in Dundee.

BG noted updates to international work in Malawi. Jon Rathjen, Scottish Government was developing work with Food Retailers around water use. BG noted in terms of work in India, at least one MOU was imminent and SG were keen to explore further collaborative work overseas.

BG noted that HNWIS was in the third and final year under the current contract arrangements, with work on the next iteration was due to begin imminently.

The Chair thanked BG for his overview and invited discussion from the Forum.

AR noted that the changes were positives and that there were two in particular that he wanted to comment on. The drive to signposting who had responsibility in a certain area is efficient and welcome. AS is conscious that we need to think about how best to involve businesses, particularly SMEs as there is no umbrella organisation covering this at present. AR suggested that consideration should be given to the advantages of public/private partnerships.

JP noted that there was a lot of information on the exporting of knowledge and innovation but not much on the importing of knowledge, including through SMEs. BG noted that the issue had been raised before and agreed to reflect further on this and welcomed ideas from the Forum on how best to do this. The Chair noted that the issue may well be down to the visibility of the Hydro Nation agenda. DD noted that within the Enterprise and Skills review there was a heavy focus on collaboration across the Public Sector. Across the HIE region a workshop was held to explore how Partners could help each other deliver a Green, Healthy and Climate Ready Highlands and Islands and this involved with discussion including NHS/SEPA/SW/ZWS/THC. 10 low carbon and circular economy priorities were discussed but water (Hydro Nation), chemicals, and pharma pollution were the main focus at this first workshop. DD noted that lots of people focused on the here and now but the opportunities to look ahead so that Scotland remains exemplar in this area and partner actions do not have led to unintended consequences/costs for others. The workshop highlighted that partners are not always sighted of the Hydro Nation agenda and were keen to be involved.

BK noted that it was positive in terms of the knowledge that was being exported. He noted that at the World Water Congress there had been excitement about the work Scotland had been doing in this area. BK suggested that more be done in terms of global publications to get Scotland’s Hydro Nation message out there.

The Chair suggested that an International Conference hosted in Scotland may be an opportunity to do this. She had to leave at this point but opened up this idea to further discussion. Chairing duties were passed to BG.

The Forum invited the Secretariat to consider whether more could be made of Water Efficiency in the Strategy. In response, BB provided the Forum with a brief outline on the work SW is doing in this area. DD noted the SG’s work on Scotland's Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP). (SEEP is an innovative and complex 15-20 year programme designed to tackle climate change and fuel poverty). DD noted the work that SFT/SE/COSLA were doing in this area specific to water efficiency and agreed to connect the Forum to this work. AS noted a recent relevant publication from the OECD which highlighted the impact of peer pressure on behaviours: people were more likely to reduce their water consumption if their neighbour was more economical. NK noted that there was a correlation between energy and water use and a concern That companies cannot grow because they have reached their consent limit so there isa need to make companies more water efficient. BB cited a water efficiency trial by Scottish Water had been funded by the Scottish Government and SW’s efforts to influence domestic use by education and information. SW works extensively with businesses on water efficiency principally through metering.

BB noted that, given the UK’s vote to leave the EU, further work should be done to improve profile of the Hydro Nation Agenda to secure funding internationally.

BK noted the reference in the Strategy to specific countries under HNI. He suggested that these should be removed to better reflect the broad activity of HNI. JCS noted the work of the World Water Forum – he suggested that engaging with this event could be used to bring in strategic partners. AD suggested that we need representation at trade shows; RH/BG will develop HN slides for such events. JP noted that Scotland was ahead on dynamic regulation in the water industry and that this was a positive news story that should be publicised more WICS have been very active in going out to world to show how governance operates. There is a wider need to pursue international activities across the board. High level policy promotes Scotland as a Hydro Nation and as a collective we need make more of that.

GW noted Ipsos MORI research that had been carried out recently on the degree to which communities engage with water. GW noted that the results showed that communities engaged much more with water in natural state and environment but less so with infrastructure. There was more appetite for community involvement in protecting water sources and she undertook to share details with the Forum.

Action Points

  • BG to bring forward ideas on closer engagement with SMEs and prepare slides for HNF members’ use at events
  • DD to link group up with work on SEEP.
  • AS to supply link to OECD report
  • GW to share findings from Ipsos MORI research with the Forum.

Item 4 – Hydro Nation Agenda: Progress update 1 (Paper HNF10.1)

BG noted that this had largely been covered in earlier discussions and invited the Forum to feedback any further points in correspondence. BG referred the group to a couple of points: (1) that we were currently at an interesting juncture. The first cohort of four scholars were completing their studies imminently, and two new scholars were joining this year. There would be a call for academic topics being issued in July; and (2) drawing Members’ attention to the progress update on HNWIS.

Item 5 – Hydro Nation summer event

BG noted that the proposed event would not proceed in September owing to the unavailability of key speakers and scholars but that an alternative date would now be sought. BG thanked RH for help on the paper. The event will be used for scholars to expand network, associate with peers and potential employers. BG welcomed comments on the outline from the Forum. AS suggested that there should be an item on cost/value with a focus on (1) what could/should be done better and (2) what could be afforded and the cost involved. AS volunteered to lead on this.

Action Point

AS to provide paper on cost/value as suggested /input to HN event in due course.

Item 6 – Presentations from Hydro Nation Scholars

4th year Hydro Nation Scholars gave presentations:

  • Juan Carlos Sanchez – “The Contribution of the UNECE Water Regime to Multi-Level Co-operation and Cross-sectoral Coherence in International Water Law”
  • Christopher Schulz – “The Value Base of Water Governance in the Upper Paraguay River Basin, Mato Grosso, Brazil”
  • Nazli Koseoglu – “Optimising Water Use in Scotland: Valuation, Tradability and Portfolio Theory”

Item 7 – Malawi hi-lift project

Ben McIntosh-Michaelis introduced the project and showed a video to the Forum on the work completed in Malawi.

Item 8 – Developing the Water Economy

BG invited the Forum to provide any update on ongoing projects. The Forum had no updates.

Item 9 – Summary

BG thanked all for attending and closed the meeting.

Action Point

CM to provide proposed date and venue of next meeting.

Water Industry Division June 2017

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