Reducing nutrient runoff from agriculture, industry, cities, and wastewater is key to protecting water quality and marine life. Emerging new legislation seeks to deliver nutrient neutrality in certain key locations across the country and places obligations on water companies to reduce nutrient pollution from our treatment works.
Traditional methods used to remove nutrients like nitrogen from wastewater at treatment plants would have cost our customers around £320m to build and around £10m extra every year to maintain but we developed an alternative plan which uses innovative and nature-based solutions in the Tees catchment that would have cost just £46m to build and £5m a year to maintain and resulting in greater improvements to the environment than traditional solutions alongside huge reductions in embedded carbon. Indeed, when wider public value benefits are considered the traditional approach would not have provided a positive cost benefit assessment.
In a water industry first for marine restoration, our plans for a Tees catchment based community include seaweed farming, shellfish farming, native oyster restoration, saltmarsh restoration, seagrass restoration and integrated constructed wetlands. Seaweed and shellfish farming will be start of new industry on Teesside, not only improving the environment but starting a new economy.
We continue to discuss these plans with the Government and our environmental regulators and the EA and follow the progress of the legislation that will give legal effect to these requirements which is still passing through Parliament. We hope that we can agree a way forward that will allow the development of our nature-based proposals delivering greater environmental improvements including four times greater nitrogen removal than the traditional option, habitat creation, carbon sequestration potential and new jobs on Teesside, but still saving customers a significant amount of money on bills. We recognise that our plans are more risky and uncertain than traditional approaches but if we are to move away from traditional methods then we must begin to implement more of these solutions at scale and our proposals would allow this.