Water firms' plans panned

Natural England has called on the government to tighten the regulation of water companies to reduce consumption and extraction.

The body has criticised the latest water resource management plans published by England's water companies, claiming that there is very little commitment to lowering water use.

Very few water company plans have fully assessed the impact of their proposals on the natural environment, Natural England maintained. It is concerned that utilities have not indicated how they will deliver their biodiversity and landscape duties.

"Resources are under immense pressure, which will only intensify as population increases and climate change take effect," said chief executive Helen Phillips.

"It is dismaying that many water companies' plans, far from focusing on reducing per capita consumption and carbon use, are actually moving in the opposite direction in direct contradiction of the government's strategy."

She added: "There is now a real need to have statutory water efficiency targets to ensure that the water industry deals properly and urgently with this issue."

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