Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced plans to improve the resilience of England’s water supply and set a clear target to halve water leakages by 2050 – matching a key recommendation by the National Infrastructure Commission.

Such a move would ensure the country’s water supply system could better withstand droughts.

In a speech, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said that he will set a new target for water companies to halve leakages, but also that the forthcoming National Policy Statement on water resources would include measures to help deliver water supply infrastructure such as new reservoirs and transfers to support areas suffering water shortages

This announcement follows recommendations in the National Infrastructure Commission’s report, Preparing for a Drier Future, which considered how to make England’s water infrastructure resilient to droughts – something expected to be more frequent as a consequence of climate change.

Responding to the Environment Secretary’s speech, a spokesman for the National Infrastructure Commission said:

“With climate change increasing drought risk England can’t afford to lose three billion litres of water every day, so we’re pleased to see Michael Gove endorsing our recommendations to halve leakages by 2050.

“We’re also pleased the National Policy Statement will make it easier to deliver new reservoirs and water transfers to increase the capacity of the system and support areas in greatest need.

“These measures are an important step towards a more resilient water supply.”