Water company fined £800,000 for taking too much water from the environment

August 21, 2023

Following a prosecution by the Environment Agency, United Utilities Water Limited have been fined a total of £800,000 at Warrington Magistrates Court after illegally abstracting 22 billion litres of water from boreholes in Lancashire, enough to fill 8,800 Olympic swimming pools.

The over abstraction caused additional stress on the environment during a period of very dry weather in 2018 and led to a significant decline in the water level available in the Fylde Aquifer.

The aquifer, an underground water storage area, which helps to support healthy river flows and is an important public water source, will take years to recover.

The case was brought after an investigation by the Environment Agency revealed that United Utilities had taken more water than allowed by five of their abstraction licences in the in the Franklaw and Broughton Borehole Complex.

Carol Holt, Environment Agency Area Director for Lancashire said: “Our priority is to ensure clean and plentiful water for people, the economy and the environment in England and we welcome the sentencing which exposes unacceptable practices from United Utilities Water Limited over a prolonged period of time.

“While water companies are allowed to abstract water from the environment, over abstraction, especially during times of prolonged dry weather, has damaging impacts to our environment. Our actions as regulator have led to the sentencing and we will continue to strive for a better water sector across the country to protect our precious water supplies now, and for the future.”

Water Minister Rebecca Pow added: “It is absolutely right that companies that harm our environment are held to account by the courts, as has happened with United Utilities.”

This is valid as of 21st August 2023.

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