United Utilities Illegally Abstracted Water Causing ‘Significant Decline’ In Fylde Aquifer

United Utilities has been fined £800,000 after illegally abstracting 22bn litres of water from the Fylde Aquifer during the very dry weather of 2018.  This said to be was sufficient water to fill 8,800 Olympic swimming pools.

The Environment Agency (EA) said the actions of United Utilities in Lancashire had caused a significant decline in the Fylde Aquifer, addling it would take years for the aquifer to recover from this over-abstraction. The EA explained that the water-bearing layer was an important public water source and helped the flow of local rivers.

United Utilities pleaded guilty at Warrington Magistrates’ Court and also offered £3m to local environment projects.

Area Director Carol Holt said: ‘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 today’s 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.’

During the hearing, the water company apologised saying it would support a number of local Rivers Trust schemes to help the environment.  Additionally, the company had made internal improvements to ensure over-abstraction did not happen again.

Grant Batty, Water Services Director at United Utilities, said: ‘We apologised for the breach in water abstraction that happened five years ago in 2018. We did not exceed the amount of water we could abstract on a daily and yearly basis, but we did inadvertently breach a three-year rolling limit on the abstraction licence.

As soon as we discovered this, we established additional controls to ensure it never happens again. We took action straight away, pleaded guilty and also made a £3m voluntary contribution to local environmental improvement projects.’

Featured photograph for illustrative purposes only.

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