Over £900 million pledged for water and environmental improvements in North West England

Lake Windermere, Cumbria
The announcement from United Utilities is designed to make the North West stronger, greener and healthier. Credit: PA Images

More than £900 million has been pledged to improve water quality in the North West of England, including at Windermere and the River Eden.

The announcement by United Utilities has been designed to make the North West "stronger, greener and healthier".

In total £914 million will be spent across the North West.

The £914 million is broken down into these areas:

  • £719 million for reducing storm overflow spills, helping protect water quality at inland waterways across the North West – including Windermere in the Lake District

  • £117 million for habitat improvements in and around the River Eden in Cumbria

  • £78 million to reduce the frequency of storm overflow spills into bathing waters

There are also £19 million worth of investments being fast-tracked to help reduce storm water spills around Windermere.

The early funding would see improvements taking place at Elterwater pumping station, Ambleside wastewater treatment works, Hawkshead pumping station, Near Sawrey wastewater treatment works.

United Utilities CEO Louise Beard spoke of the announcement which will commence early on or before 2025.

She said: "I am thrilled to be able to begin work early on these improvement projects.

"This builds on the £45 million investment we completed at Windermere, Ambleside and Grasmere as part of our improvement programme between 2015 and 2020.

She continued: "We have been in discussions with the government and our regulators for some time to prioritise where future investment could be brought forward.

"The new Environment Act of 2021 sets out that water companies must reduce all storm water spills by 2050 but we’ve challenged ourselves to move smarter and faster because we know how important this issue is to local communities.

"This aligns with our commitment to the Love Windermere partnership. We care passionately about playing our part in improving water quality in the lake and mitigating against the impacts of climate change."

"I am very clear about the responsibilities United Utilities has to deliver great services for customers, to protect and enhance the environment and to ensure we are investing in the infrastructure we need in the region to support future growth and climate change.

"We have an ambitious plan, including the largest investment programme we have ever delivered as we seek to enable a step change in environmental performance right across the region.

"I know we have much more to do, addressing the things that matter most to our customers and which benefit the region and I am committed to doing that."

The Windermere projects announcement will increase storage capacity so that during heavy rainfall more of the sewer flows can be treated.

Richard Leafe, Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority said: "This is welcome news for Windermere, the environment and everyone who enjoys this special part of the Lake District.

"This significant investment will accelerate the work of the Love Windermere partnership by improving the treatment of wastewater.

"Through this partnership we are tackling all the current challenges, including pollution from septic tanks and land management which, together with this new investment, will bring long term benefits to Windermere and beyond."

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