Our biodiversity policy

Biodiversity is an essential part of safeguarding our water resources and helping reduce the impacts of our operations.


What we're doing

  • We're working hard to find nature based solutions to the challenges we face, including investment in tree planting, peatland restoration and river enhancements.
  • We're committed to preserving and enhancing biodiversity in order to protect our raw water resources and natural heritage.
  • An assessment of our biodiversity projects shows that for every £1 invested in biodiversity projects, society sees £8 of benefits.
  • Investment in the natural environment can boost resilience to both flooding and drought, improves wellbeing and helps to meet the climate change challenge. ​

Why biodiversity matters to Yorkshire Water

As a water company, biodiversity is fundamental to allowing us to provide our core service of delivering a natural resource to our customers and protecting that resource from our impacts.

Biodiversity is the variety of life, be that plants, animals, fungi or micro-organisms, as well as the communities they form and the habitats in which they live. It is essential for people, providing vital services like clean water, carbon storage, underpinning our health and wellbeing and for the intrinsic value of iconic species like salmon or kingfishers.

Ecosystems with high biodiversity can more efficiently recycle water, oxygen and carbon and contain a thriving community of species. Enhancing biodiversity, for example by creating farmland buffer strips along watercourses, can protect our raw water resources and boost resilience to flooding.

Due to the size and scale of our operations, our construction programme and our landholdings, we are in a unique position to cause large positive or negative impacts on biodiversity. This is a responsibility we take extremely seriously, and we endeavour to help encourage wildlife and plants across the region to thrive. We also have a responsibility to protect and enhance the biodiversity to safeguard the ecosystems on which we and future generations will rely.

The below points are an indication of how vast and varied the Yorkshire landscape is and indeed the scale of our responsibilities:

  • Over 11,000 hectares of our land are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) covering around 40% of our estate.
  • We abstract from and discharge into a number of Special Areas of Conservation, including the internationally important Humber Estuary Ramsar site.
  • Over 1,100 km of statutory rights of way pass over our land and we have a duty to help promote people’s engagement with and enjoyment of biodiversity.
  • 462 species of national or international conservation importance are found in Yorkshire, with around 50% of species and habitats of principal importance in England being found on our land.

Our biodiversity action plan

With a clear understanding of what our targets are from the biodiversity strategy, we’ve then prepared a clear action plan around how we are going to deliver on all these promises. With achievable yet ambitious targets set each year, you can track what work we’ve been undertaking and follow the improvements we’re making each and every month.

Take a look at our Biodiversity Action Plan, to see our targets and how we are performing.

Our Biodiversity Action Plan


Invasive Non-native Species

Invasive non-native species (INNS) are one of the biggest environmental threats worldwide and have an economic, social and environmental impact through amongst other things, exacerbating flooding, harming human health, reducing biodiversity and damaging buildings. They have the potential to impact on our ability to provide safe drinking water and return wastewater safely to the environment, and as a company, we are seeking to address this risk.

Download our INNS position statement to see the actions we're taking and how we plan to reduce this risk.

Download our INNS position statement

Catchment management

Improved biodiversity of peatland habitats, raw water quality and better carbon storage are just some of the positive impacts that our good catchment management has had on Yorkshire's environment.

Take a look below at some of the work we've done on our catchments and what we're planning for the future.

Our catchment management


River water quality

We're investing in our wastewater treatment works to help increase the biodiversity and create more natural river environments so a wider variety of fish and wildlife can thrive.

We are responsible for collecting, treating and returning about 1 billion litres of wastewater safely back to the environment every day. We have delivered a step-change in river water quality over the last 20 years by investing to enhance wastewater treatment and capabilities and therefore the quality of the water we discharge into rivers. We recognise that more needs to be done and we continue to focus on driving further improvement as part of our commitment to ‘taking care of the water environment for good'.

Find out how we're continuing to improve river water quality and read some of our case studies here.

River water quality