Sewage to cost pounds 500m

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The Independent Online
HOUSEHOLDS will pay more than pounds 500m extra to clean up sewage-polluted rivers in England and Wales, John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, announced yesterday, writes Nicholas Schoon.

The expenditure will be spread between 1995 and 2000, with water company customers footing the bill. In some regions it will amount to several pounds extra a year on charges.

The pounds 522m is over and above the billions in investment needed over the next 10 years for Britain to comply with European directives concerned with drinking water quality and sewage treatment.

It will allow progress in cleaning up 3,000 miles of Welsh and English rivers and canals officially categorised as suffering 'poor' or 'bad' quality, but not nearly as much as water users such as anglers and canoeists had hoped for. No fish can survive in the worst of these rivers.

The National Rivers Authority had bid for pounds 918m - almost twice as much as Mr Gummer has allowed. Its chairman, Lord Crickhowell, said that many important clean-up schemes would be delayed into the next century unless the water companies found ways of making savings elsewhere, and investing the money in sewerage improvements.

The highest spending is allocated for Severn Trent, the North West and Yorkshire regions, all of which suffer severe river pollution problems.