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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 04:01 GMT
Wildlife fears over water bills
Water bills are set to rise across the country
Wildlife and green groups are warning the government the environment could suffer if it agrees to big cuts in investment by the water industry.

They say the pressure to keep water bills low must not jeopardise planned improvements to water quality.

The water industry reviewing how much it can charge and the extent of its services for the next five years

Bills are set to rise, but watchdog Ofwat is concerned about the public's ability to pay increased costs.

It says average bills could rise by about 70 a year, half of which would be caused by the cost of environmental and water quality improvements.

But if those programmes are cut back, the coalition of 14 wildlife and countryside organisations says Britain's rivers and coastal waters will continue to suffer.

'Essential investment'

Already many of the most precious waterways are in a poor state, they add.

The groups involved include the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the World Wildlife Fund.

The coalition wrote to the Independent newspaper on Tuesday, insisting research had shown customers were willing to pay for "urgently needed environmental measures".

"We hope the government takes notice of this, ignores calls for cuts and supports an essential package of environmental investment," they said.

The move follows government concern over planned price increases by water companies around the country.

Ministers want to cut firms' spending on environmental projects to try to limit price rises.

Water prices 'might rise further'
20 Jan 04  |  Business
Water bills not to fund clean-up
18 Dec 03  |  Business
Regulator backs water price rise
11 Dec 03  |  Business

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