MPs call for higher sewage treatment standards

Higher standards of sewage treatment and tighter controls on sewage sludge spreading on land have been recommended by the House of Commons Environment Committee.1 Its report is well timed to bolster the case for higher environmental spending as negotiations on the next "AMP3" round of water industry prices get under way. But the Committee's belief that the improvements can be achieved by 2002 without rises in water bills is highly controversial.

The Committee's inquiry was conducted against the backdrop of the AMP3 negotiations between water companies and their regulators. Economic regulator Ofwat fired the opening shot by proposing a one-off price cut in 2000 and no increases above inflation for the subsequent five years of the AMP3 period - a move which the Environment Agency criticised as pre-empting consideration of the environmental obligations facing the industry (ENDS Report 27

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