The Government’s Environment Improvement Plan 2023 was published today with much fanfare.
Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said:We are transforming financial support for farmers and landowners to prioritise improving the environment, we are stepping up on tree planting, we have cleaner air, we have put a spotlight on water quality and rivers and are forcing industry to clean up its act.
Here is what is says about water.
Our 25 Year Environment Plan goal
We will achieve clean and plentiful water by improving at least 75% of our waters to be close to their natural state as soon as is practicable.
- We have the following targets and commitments:
- Reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution from agriculture into the water environment by at least 40% by 2038, compared to a 2018 baseline, with an interim target of 10% by 31 January 2028, and 15% in catchments containing protected sites in unfavourable condition due to nutrient pollution by 31 January 2028.
- Reduce phosphorus loadings from treated wastewater by 80% by 2038 against a 2020 baseline, with an interim target of 50% by 31 January 2028.
- Halve the length of rivers polluted by harmful metals from abandoned mines by 2038, against a baseline of around 1,500km (approximately 930 miles), with an interim target to construct eight mine water treatment schemes and 20 diffuse interventions to by 31 January 2028.
- Reduce the use of public water supply in England per head of population by 20% from the 2019 to 2020 baseline reporting figures, by 31 March 2038, with interim targets of 9% by 31 March 2027 and 14% by 31 March 2032, and to reduce leakage by 20% by 31 March 2027 and 30% by 31 March 2032.
- Restore 75% of our water bodies to good ecological status.
- Water companies to cut leaks by 50% by 2050. We will reduce leakage by 20% by31 March 2027 and 30% by March 2032.
- Require water companies to have eliminated all adverse ecological impact from sewage discharges at all sensitive sites by 2035, and at all other overflows by 2050.
- Target a level of resilience to drought so that emergency measures are needed only once in 500-years.
To deliver these, we will:
Ensure water companies are delivering on our targets and commitments through enhanced transparency and monitoring mechanisms in the Environment Act, targeted enforcement from regulators and increasing the maximum fines.
Direct water company fines relating to environmental breaches to improving the water environment.
Crack down on sewage pollution by holding water companies to account for delivering the targets set out in the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan.
Require water companies to upgrade 160 of their wastewater treatment works to meet the strictest phosphorus limits by 2028, and upgrade a further 400 by 2038, to reduce harmful nutrient pollution from treated wastewater.
Reduce agricultural pollution across England by paying farmers to protect and enhance watercourses through new farming schemes, and investing in improved slurry storage and management through our grants, providing advice to farmers to improve their practices through the expanded Catchment Sensitive Farming partnership scheme, and ensuring farmers are meeting legal standards of responsible farming through our expanded and targeted farm visits programme.
Increase our resilience to drought by working with regulators and water companies to reduce household and non-household water use, and ensuring water companies are delivering a 50% reduction in leakage by 2050.
Roll out new water efficiency labelling and deliver our ten actions in the Roadmap to Water Efficiency in new developments.
Deliver a ten-fold increase in the Water and Abandoned Metal Mines programme, upscaling the existing three treatment schemes with 40 more by 2038, to tackle harmful pollutants from abandoned metal mines.
Protect our chalk streams by supporting the Chalk Stream Strategy.
Make Sustainable Drainage Systems mandatory in new developments subject tofinal decisions, following consultation, on scope, threshold and process.