First review of 25 Year Environment Plan published

The government has recently published the first progress report of its landmark 25 Year Environment Plan indicating that, in the first year alone, 90% of the plan’s actions have been delivered or are being progressed.

Launched in January 2018, the 25 Year Environment Plan sets out how we will improve the environment over a generation by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality and curbing the scourge of plastic in the world’s oceans. You can read the full report here. Of particular interest to the water sector is section 2 - "Clean & Plentiful Water".

Below is an extract on the progess that has been made:

What progress have we made?

Since the Plan was published, the Environment Agency worked with water companies to reduce abstraction. The Agency also worked to develop the Water Industry Natural Environment Programme to protect and enhance our natural water bodies. Water companies have collectively committed over £5 billion in the next five-year period to improve the water environment.To make progress towards our goal of returning water bodies close to their natural state requires action on three tiers.

Since the Plan was published, we have made progress in these areas:

1.Ensuring there is enough water for the environment

  • We are addressing the problem of unsustainable abstraction by reviewing licences to return water to the environment. Since 2017, the Environment Agency has reduced the risk of deterioration by revoking more than 600 licences.
  • We published a National Policy Statement for water resources infrastructure to streamline the process of gaining planning permission for nationally significant infrastructure projects. The Statement commits to securing benefits to the environment through application of net gain. Consultation on the statement concluded in January 2019 and will be finalised later this year following parliamentary scrutiny.

2.Reducing demand

  • In our water conservation report laid in Parliament in December 2018, we endorsed leakage reduction targets for water companies. Water companies are required to achieve an ambitious 15% reduction by 2025, and 50% by 2050.
  • We have been working with water companies to agree ambitious reductions to household consumption, pushing them to provide the tools to customers to deliver this. The first draft Water Resource Management Plans show an average personal consumption of 123 litres per person per day by 2045 down from 141 litres today. Our work with companies has so far reduced this by a further seven litres.
  • Two years ago the government opened the largest competitive water retail market in the world. Although water efficiency measures require further development, approximately 270 to 540 million litres of water have been saved.
Article was published on 16 May 2019 by DEFRA.