United Utilities can continue to draw water from boreholes in West Cumbria at existing levels after being granted an extension to its licence.

Under an existing permit from the Environment Agency, the utility company was allowed to take up to 11 mega litres of water a day from boreholes at south Egremont until the end of March, dropping to eight mega litres a day.

But the firm applied for an extension to the licence, which has been granted, allowing it to maintain the 11 mega litres limit in the future.

Sharon Kennedy, the Environment Agency’s environment manager for Cumbria, said: “The Environment Agency licenses the amount of water United Utilities can abstract from Egremont boreholes to boost their water supply network.

“We have granted an application from United Utilities to vary its licence to allow the water company to continue to take the same daily maximum volume as it is currently permitted to take from the boreholes, when required.

“The quality of drinking water is the responsibility of United Utilities and is regulated by the Drinking Water Inspectorate.”

The boreholes are being used to help supply water to West Cumbria while the new water pipeline is constructed to supply water from Thirlmere.

West Cumbria currently gets all its water from local lakes and boreholes, unlike much of the rest of the North West which is part of United Utilities’ large Integrated Resource Zone.

Water is moved around this extensive network to supply households from a variety of sources, including large reservoirs.

A public meeting takes place at 7.30pm on Thursday at Whitehaven Civic Hall. It has been organised by campaigners against the use of borehole water mixed with that from Ennerdale Water.