Commission confirms action on sewage disposal in Northern Ireland
The European Commission is sending a final written warning to the United Kingdom asking it to comply with the 1991 Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. Under this Directive, sewage and other wastewater from all urban centres with populations of over 15,000 is required to undergo secondary-level (i.e. biological) treatment before being discharged into rivers and the sea. The necessary treatment plants to achieve this should have been operational by 31 December 2000, but in the UK this has not yet been done for 14 urban areas. Nine of the areas are in Northern Ireland: Bangor, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Londonderry, Larne, Newtownabbey, Omagh, Portrush and Donaghadee. Moreover, the situation in Northern Ireland risks being exacerbated by a decision to allow substantial new development to go ahead in some of the areas where no appropriate wastewater treatment is in place. This appears to be happening despite the authorities' own assessment that the developments pose a medium to high risk of having negative environmental impacts. The other five towns are in England and Scotland, at Broadstairs and Margate in Kent, Brighton on the south coast, Bideford/Northam in Devon and Lerwick in Scotland.