Millions to be invested in North Yorkshire’s water works

Yorkshire Water chief executive Richard Flint. (S)
Yorkshire Water chief executive Richard Flint. (S)

Millions in investment will be made in the North Yorkshire’s water works, it has been revealed today (December 12).

Rivers and sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) in Harrogate, Pateley Bridge, and Nidderdale will be improved up to 2020, according to utility company Yorkshire Water.

More than half of the company’s investment plans are aimed at protecting and enhancing the region’s water environment, with £180m set aside to improve the quality of Yorkshire’s inland waterways.

There is considerable investment being made in North Yorkshire, where a significant proportion of the £3.8b set aside for the whole region over the next five years will be made.

Across North Yorkshire £10.9m will be spent on increasing and supporting biodiversity, focusing in particular on native species, including work to restore 75 hectares of natural woodland.

And, as part of the £6m allocated to opening up rivers at more than 20 sites in Yorkshire, the River Wharf west of Harrogate, River Ure near Masham, and the River Swale near Northallerton will benefit.

A share of an additional £2m will be spent on improving SSSIs in North Yorkshire at Barden near Pateley Bridge, in Blubberhouses, in East, Upper, and West Nidderdale, and at Gouthwaite Reservoir, helping these areas reach ‘favourable’ status by 2020.

Right across the county there will be an investment of £14m in storm tanks to help minimise risk of flooding from sewers at times of heavy rainfall.

Other examples of funding in North Yorkshire include upgraded sewage treatment works at Gargrave in the Upper Aire Valley, £2m to help endangered eels into the county’s rivers near Wressle and Whitby, and a £6.4m refurbishment of the Irton water treatment works near Scarborough.

Yorkshire Water chief executive Richard Flint said the money would drive significant improvements in customer service, as well as delivering major environmental benefits across the region.

“This is great news for our customers who already benefit from having some of the lowest bills in the UK,” he said.

“When pulling together our plan, more than 30,000 customers gave us their views on what they thought we should be investing in.

“Our consultation programme was the biggest of all the water and sewerage companies, so we’re confident that it represents real value for money.

“As a company that prides itself on taking care of the water environment, we’re looking forward to building on the excellent work we’ve already undertaken to improve the region’s reservoir catchments, countryside, rivers, and streams.”

Another announcement released today has said customers in North Yorkshire will benefit from lower water bills and better services over the next five years, according to a report by industry regulator Ofwat.

Average bills in the county will fall by about three per cent between 2015 and 2020, reducing the average bill from £373 a year to £361, the report said.

In real terms, this means that in 2019/20, Yorkshire Water customers in the area will be paying £15 less a year for their water and sewerage services than the national average water bill.

Customers will receive official notification of their new charges early in 2015, with further communications and bills distributed between February and May.

Mr Flint said: “We’re looking forward to working closely with local communities to deliver our plan in the most effective and efficient way possible.

“We’re proud of the fact that we’re currently the most financially efficient water and sewerage company in the UK and we’re committed to ensuring we continue to deliver value for money and invest in the things our customers say are important to them.”

Mr Flint added that helping customers who were genuinely struggling to pay their bills would remain a high priority for the company, which would shortly be piloting a new social tariff to help those in most need of financial assistance.