United Utilities has warned that failure to clean up bathing water to European standards could cost the economy of northwest England £1 billion in lost tourism revenue, The water supplier appealed to farmers, local authorities, developers and landowners to help reduce pollution in water courses.
The Environment Agency reported last month 40 English beaches are at risk of breaching new tighter European standards due to come in next year. Where beaches fail the tests, local authorities will have to put up a sign advising people not to swim.
United Utilities said that discharges from sewage works are 30 per cent of the problem while agricultural run-off accounts for 35 per cent of pollutants.
Speaking at the International Festival of Business in Liverpool, head of sustainability Chris Matthews said: “The solution is complex; we have our role to play but our waste water assets are only 30% of the problem.
“We need farmers, local authorities, developers and private landowners to play their part in reducing pollution to water courses so we all protect and enhance the natural environment which underpins a vibrant £3.2 billion tourist economy in the region that in turns supports thousands of jobs.”
Prime minister David Cameron opened the event with a tribute to the inventiveness of British businesses. He said: “One of the things I love about Britain is that we are a nation of geniuses.
“Almost every invention worth inventing, we’ve had a hand in it.
“Almost every type of industry there has been, we’ve excelled at it.”