HL Deb 17 July 1991 vol 531 cc12-3WA
Lord Mountevans

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When will they be writing to those people who objected to the applications for time-limited discharge consents for sewage treatment works.

Baroness Blatch

The Department of the Environment has now written to those who made objections to the applications made by the then water authorities, setting out the decisions taken, and explaining the reasons for those decisions. I have placed a copy of the letters in the Library. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales intends to write shortly to those who objected to applications made by the then Welsh Water Authority.

Detailed information about the individual consents granted is already available on the public registers held in the National Rivers Authority's regional offices. Summary information concerning all the applications submitted was contained in Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution 1989/90 Annual Report published last year. Around 15 per cent. of the applications submitted were rejected, or were withdrawn by the applicants, and many were granted only subject to tighter conditions than the water authorities had sought.

Time-limited consents were granted in connection with the water industry's current £1.2 billion improvement programme. The latest figures available from the National Rivers Authority demonstrate that significant improvements have been made in the operational performance of sewage treatment works throughout England and Wales. In 1990, the proportion of works complying with their current consents was 92 per cent. Time-limited consents are superseded by long-term performance measures as the improvements work through. The proportion of works which already meet these long-term measures has risen from 77 per cent. in 1986, and 83 per cent. in 1988 to some 88 per cent. in 1990.

The National Rivers Authority is continuing to monitor the performance of sewage treatment works and has the necessary enforcement powers to take action against works that fail to meet fully the requirements of their consents. The Director General of Water Services is also monitoring the progress being made by the companies towards the timely completion of their improvement programmes so that customers' interests are fully protected.