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December 2, 2003 2:11 PM

Water running into a bath from taps.After the dry summer and autumn reducing water levels in England, northwest water company, United Utilities, has applied to the Environment Agency for permission to pump water from Ullswater and Windermere lakes.

Commenting, Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, said:

"After the dry summer and autumn, we are continuing to use more water than we can afford and we need to find ways of using water more sustainably.

"Applications to pump water from lakes have now started in the northwest, but we could soon see it across Britain. These eco-systems should not have to suffer because of a serious lack of central planning.

"Pumping water from lakes should be a last resort. The Government has to switch off its autopilot and take urgent action. It must take steps to promote water efficiency measures in homes and introduce universal water metering to act as a break on consumption."