Government needs “urgent action” to safeguard UK water

Urgent action is needed from Government to safeguard water quality and availability in the UK, according to a group of Lords, who warn Europe is not doing enough to protect […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Urgent action is needed from Government to safeguard water quality and availability in the UK, according to a group of Lords, who warn Europe is not doing enough to protect itself against threats to water resources.

The warning comes in a new report from the Lords’ Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment Committee published today.

In the report, An Indispensable Resource: EU Freshwater Policy, the Committee calls for the Government to bring forward the deadline for reforming the water abstraction regime, the way water is taken out of rivers, outlined in its Water White Paper.

The Committee claims government plans to reform the way we take water from rivers could come far too late, with more than 10% of rivers currently abstracted in the UK. The Government has set a target of the mid to late 2020s for reforming the system.

Chair of the Committee, Lord Carter of Coles said: “The issue of water scarcity is becoming increasingly urgent. Having taken our water resources for granted for so long, we must start looking at ways in which we can protect the quality and availability of water resources in the face of challenges such as climate change and population growth.

“Governments across the EU need to act decisively and grasp the nettle of allowing the cost of water to rise where other measures fail to overcome water scarcity.  Here in the UK, the Government cannot wait 15 years to reform the water abstraction regime when it is clear that over-abstraction is already doing ecological damage to more than one in 10 of our rivers.”