Natural England - Water


Rivers, lakes, and wetlands and the wildlife they support are distinctive and integral components of the English landscape.

Children by river

They are particularly susceptible to pollution and enrichment. Over abstraction, land drainage and flood risk management practices can all affect the quality of the water environment.

We work with partners such as Defra, the EU, the Environment Agency, water companies, the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts and regulators such as Ofwat to put in place integrated and sustainable solutions that work with natural processes.

Check, Clean, Dry

Invasive non-native species are damaging our water and wetland habitats and wildlife. To find out how you can help stop their spread go to our Check, Clean, Dry page.

Water Company Water Resource Management Plans

The water companies published their statutory Water Resource Management Plans (WRMPs) in 2008. These define how each water company will meet customer demand over the next 25 years, including tackling growth and dealing with climate change.

Natural England's overview of the company plans: (50kb)pdf document

Natural England’s Role in the Periodic Review of Water Company Pricing 2010-2015 (PR09)

Every five years, each water company in England and Wales prepares an Asset Management Plan (AMP) that sets out its proposed spending plans for the next five years. These plans are subject to guidance from Defra and Ofwat, who set the prices that each company can charge customers for the five-year period.

The review of these business plans is called the Periodic Review. The last review period ended in 2009 ready for the spending period 2010-2015. The Asset Management Plan for this period is called AMP5 (the previous plan was AMP4).

Natural England’s role in the PR09 process was to ensure that water companies can deliver their statutory obligations for Natura 2000 sites, SSSIs and Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs). Natural England also promoted climate change mitigation and adaptation and the use of sustainable methods for tackling water quality and water-resource problems at source, through catchment-based approaches that deliver multiple objectives. Natural England expects to play a similar role in the 2014 Periodic Review, PR14.

Natural England's approach to PR09: (16kb)pdf document

For the first time Ofwat has required each water company to complete a 25 year Strategic Direction Statement, bringing a longer term view to water industry planning. Natural England produced a summary of these documents and assessed them against our objectives for PR09.

Natural England's summary of water company 25 year Strategic Direction Statements: (80kb)pdf document

Water companies published their draft business plans on 11 August 2008. Natural England assessed each plan against our objectives for PR09 and wrote to Ofwat, the Environment Agency and each water company, setting out our views. See Natural England's overview of the draft business plans: (97kb)pdf document.

The water companies published their Final Business Plans on 7 April 2009. See Natural England’s analysis of the Final Business Plans: (272kb)pdf document.

Ofwat published its Draft Determinations on the Final Business Plans on 23 July 2009. See Natural England’s response to Ofwat’s Draft Determinations: (158kb)pdf document.

Ofwat published its Final Determinations on 26 November 2009.

Understanding customers' views – PR09 quantitative research into customers' priorities

On 25 February 2009, Natural England, alongside seven other stakeholders1 representing customers, regulators, water and sewerage companies and government jointly published the report, 'Understanding customers' views – PR09 Quantitative Research into Customers' Priorities'external link.

The report explored bill payers' views of water company draft business plans for water and sewerage services in England and Wales. This was part of the Ofwat 2009 price review (PR09) covering the period 2010-15.

This research explored customers' acceptance of the plans (submitted to Ofwat in 2008) and whether they considered them to represent value for money. This research helped inform the water and sewerage companies’ final business plans.

1Consumer Council for Water, Environment Agency, Water UK, Defra, Welsh Assembly Government, Drinking Water Inspectorate and Ofwat

Deliberative Research concerning Consumers’ Priorities for PR09

On 13 June 2008 Natural England, alongside seven other stakeholders1 representing customers, regulators, water and sewerage companies and government jointly published the report
Deliberative Research concerning consumers' priorities for PR09 for the Water Industry Steering Groupexternal link (Ofwat).

The report explored consumers' views of water and sewerage services for the 2009 price review (PR09) covering the period 2010-15.

1 Consumer Council for Water, Environment Agency, Water UK, Defra, Welsh Assembly Government, Drinking Water Inspectorate and Ofwat

Water Framework Directive

The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) was adopted in 2000. The purpose of the Directive is to establish a framework for the protection of rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater. More about the WFD and Natural England's role in the development of River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs).


  • Female Broad Bodied Chaser © Natural England/Steve Hiner

    Million ponds good news for freshwater wildlife

    (19 September 2012)  Natural England welcomes the launch of Phase 2 of the Million Ponds project, which was celebrated in the House of Lords yesterday (18 September).


  • River Nene from Bluebell Bridge, Cambridgeshire © Natural England/Peter Wakely

    Helping our rivers

    (28 March 2012)  Defra and a range of partner organizations have come together to celebrate the importance of our rivers and to remind people of the steps they can take to protect these special places.