Skip to main content

Coverage of the launch of the Water Restoration Fund

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: water

There has been coverage, including in the Independent, ITV, Evening Standard and Sky News of today’s announcement of the launch of the Water Restoration Fund, which will see £11m in water company fines and penalties invested back into projects that improve the water environment. Water Minister Robbie Moore also carried out a morning radio round including interviews with Times Radio and Bauer Media.

All water company environmental fines and penalties since April 2022 have been ringfenced to directly improve the water environment. The Water Restoration Fund will now offer grant funding on a competitive basis to support local groups, farmers and landowners and community-led schemes, bolstering their capacity and capabilities for on-the-ground projects to improve the water environment.

As set out in our Plan for Water, funding for the Water Restoration Fund comes exclusively from water company fines and penalties – but it is important to note that these penalties and fines are additional to any reparations that water companies make when they have breached environmental regulations.

Today’s announcement follows significant action taken in recent months to hold water companies to account, including a ban on bonuses for water company executives where firms have committed serious criminal breaches, subject to Ofwat consultation, and plans to quadruple the Environment Agency’s regulatory capacity, enabling them to carry out 4,000 water company inspections by the end of this financial year.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said:  

I know how important our precious waterways are to local communities and to nature, which is why we’re taking tough action to ensure our regulators are well-equipped to hold those who pollute them to account.

Through the Water Restoration Fund, I will be making sure that money from fines and penalties – taken from water company profits only – is channelled directly back into our waterways.

Community-led projects are vital to improving and maintaining water quality across the country, and this fund will help build on that success.

Natural England’s Chief Executive Marian Spain said:

Natural England welcomes the creation of Defra’s Water Restoration Fund, using the money from water company fines and penalties to improve water and wetlands for nature and people, and looks forward to supporting Defra to make good use of the funds now available.

The fund is great opportunity for landowners, communities and nature bodies to help make a real difference to the condition of our Sites of Special Scientific Interest and to restore natural processes in catchments to provide the nature and health benefits that society needs from water.

Fines and penalties issued since October 2023 will now be accrued for future years to be spent on environmental improvements. Last December, the government lifted the cap on civil penalties for water companies, and expanded the range of offenses they cover.

This means we are toughening our enforcement tools and expanding where regulators can use them. These changes will deliver a proportionate punishment for operators that breach their permits and cause pollution. Though we aren't in a position to pre-empt future regulatory action or court decisions, this increased scrutiny will likely result in future increases in the funding ringfenced for the environmental improvements from water company penalties.

Applicants will have an eight-week window to apply from today, with grant awards expected to be issued from late July. For further details are available in our application guidance.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by alan wightman posted on

    This is a `Fire-Brigade response and totally unsuitable as these pitiful fines are only a `drip, drip´ financial solution. Thames Water won´t be alone in declaring insolvency & seek taxpayers` rescue or fail. We must prevent others doing a `Thames´ by initiating Nationalisation, albeit it progressively e.g. 50% of each company. This should ensure the billions of pounds and pounds needed for `major´ solutions. Look at the financial report e.g. of Northumbria Water & appraise the multi-billion pound profits of which 50% would be a `game-changer´ for DEFRA´s considerable billions budget.
    Northumbria Water has its `nose in the trough´ representing a multitude of foreign investors at an ever-increasing cost to North-eastern clients.
    Sharing such bounty should enable the funding of `Magna´ solutions to resolve the repetitive problems of the environment in general and in particular the preventative flooding of our farmlands or expect a much-reduced crop production and rising prices with reliance on Food banks to the shame of our country.
    With the 50% we will be able to budget e.g. the task of the `Minister of Floods´ who could consult the Dutch with their Flood Control Expertise.
    Preparing for the opposite `flip of the coin´ we build more resevoirs a.s.p. because after only a couple of weeks with no rain it will be an official drought. In these darkest times we should never give up hope, or DEFRA!

  2. Comment by alan wightman posted on

    We await Defra´s comments, response to `The Guardian´s´ article concerning rejection of compensation, (maximum 25 thousand pounds) to assist farmers recover their flooded farms. "The eligibility is completely flawed. How could anyone take so long to come up with such nonsense?"
    Compare to Defra´s `Softly, Softly´ policy of `tolerable´ fines when dealing with `vagrant´ foreign-owned Water companies. British farmers in comparison denied compensation so urgently needed NOW!

    Compare further in context of `Water Restoration Fund´! `Short-term Development Awards of 75.000 pounds to 250.000 pounds whilst long-term grants offered from 500.000 pounds to 2 million pounds! Before applying be aware of the `sting in the tail´ viz. `supporting evidence´!

  3. Comment by John W.Baxter posted on

    This will not make the University Superannuation funds nor the Ontario teachers pensions funds,wealth funds etc. very happy, but may be good news for some of the country s landowners,large landowners, like Yorkshire Water, Duchy of Lancaster and Church Commissioners.
    It would all have been so much more forward looking if the satellite technology the British taxpayers funded for the use by DEFRA had been properly used to prevent pollution to our treasured waterways by our privatised and improperly managed water companies had been brought to book so much earlier……..the chalk stream Costa Beck being such a good example of apathy as it ran by the EA workplace in Pickering carrying improperly treated effluent from the waste water treatment works for years.
    The time has come to be accountable for all the past wrongs.

  4. Comment by William Hughes-Games posted on

    A typical human reaction to a problem. Fines, sanctions and technical fixes. You do mention, in passing, nature but are far from specific. If you don't have a section devoted to beavers and the incredible positive effects they have on the water resources, you haven't done your job.

  5. Comment by alan wightman posted on

    DEFRA `water on the brain´ as they persist in their propaganda strategy as nearly all the public are aware that this will do nothing to prevent private Water Companies profiting from their lack of investment on behalf of their shareholders from around the world. These meagre fines are seen as simply the cost of a multi-billion pound profit business. Time for Nationalisation.

    If you can `skim´then refer to the nearly 300 page of Defra´s Annual Report & Accounts 2023/24 where the top lady executives are `not for turning´. They are very proud of their 29,430 `full-time´ employees. Mostly in London & South-east with nearly 8.000 & 1.475 in North-east.
    Reminded that `self-praise is no recommendation & worth nothing concerning one´s own work´. Good luck trying to make a complaint as defences as strong as The Tower of London. In the 2022/23 Annual Report `no complaints were investigated´. We are `invited´ to send `Comments´ which `may be published´ but only if conform to `awaiting moderation´.
    This of course only in self-interest of Defra & spectrum of `Programmers´ as a source of Data. To vindicate their existence `rebuttals´ are promptly
    enacted to any àdverse´ press statements which they deem to be a threat.
    Civil Servants!