Consultation on developing a National Policy Statement for Water Resources and proposals to amend the definition of nationally significant water infrastructure in the Planning Act 2008

Closed 22 Dec 2017

Opened 13 Nov 2017


By the 2050s England is expected to face a water deficit of 8-22% of total water demand. Demand for water will increase due to population and economic growth, whilst the impacts of climate change and drought are likely to reduce the reliability of rainfall. We need to take action now to ensure we can meet our future water needs in an affordable way.

Government is clear we must take ambitious action to reduce demand for water by being more water efficient. At the same time, new water resources will also be needed meaning that new large infrastructure such as reservoirs or water transfers will be part of the solution.

The government wants to make sure that where new large infrastructure is needed, it can be delivered in a timely manner to a high standard. To help achieve this, Defra is developing a National Policy Statement on Water Resources (NPS) which will streamline the process of gaining planning consents for large water infrastructure projects. The role of an NPS is set out in the Planning Act 2008. It presents the national evidence base and demonstrates the need for new large scale water resource infrastructure and provides detailed guidance setting out the framework for decisions on new large water supply projects.

This NPS will apply to projects defined as ‘nationally significant infrastructure projects’ in the Planning Act 2008. We think there is also a need to review these definitions to check they are fit for purpose.

When developing an NPS, the government is required to assess the sustainability (environmental, social and economic) of the proposed policy and the impact it will have on designated habitats sites.

This consultation will be of interest to those concerned with how new nationally significant water supply infrastructure could be built in England (or on the borders with Wales or Scotland) in the future.

Why your views matter

We are at the early stage of developing the NPS. This consultation has three specific parts and we want to gather evidence and seek views from interested parties on:

  1. The three principles that we will use to guide the detailed development of the NPS itself;
  2. Proposals to change the types and sizes of new water supply infrastructure that are defined as ‘nationally significant’ in the Planning Act 2008
  3. The scoping reports that describe the approach we intend to take for the Assessment of Sustainability and Habitats Regulations Assessments that accompany the NPS.

The responses we receive now will inform the development of the NPS and final proposals to amend the definitions in the Planning Act 2008. We intend to consult on a full draft of the NPS in 2018.

The consultation documents are available to download at the bottom of this page. You will need to refer to them when providing your responses. Click on the online survey button below to start.

If you have any questions on this consultation please email

What happens next

We will publish a summary of responses. The responses we have received will inform the development of the NPS and final proposals to amend the definitions in the Planning Act. We intend to consult on a full draft of the NPS in 2018. Both the draft NPS and the proposed amendments to the Planning Act will also be subject to scrutiny by Parliament.


  • Environmental campaigners
  • Government Departments
  • Government Agencies
  • Devolved Administrations
  • National Park Authorities
  • Water/water Industry sector
  • Water Abstractors
  • Environmental professional services
  • Local Authorities
  • Consumer Groups
  • Policy Teams
  • Water suppliers
  • Public Bodies
  • Consultants


  • Natural environment
  • Climate change
  • Sustainable development
  • Water quality
  • Water conservation
  • Resource Efficiency
  • Water Abstraction
  • House Building and Planning
  • Construction
  • Water Industry licencing
  • Land management