Urban Waste Water Treatment

The European Court of Justice has held that the UK has failed in its obligations under Directive 91/271/EEC on urban waste water treatment.

Article 3(1) of the Directive requires all Member States to ensure that agglomerations with a population equivalent in excess of 15,000 have collecting systems for urban waste water by 31 December 2000.

Article 4(1) requires Member States to ensure that for all discharges from such agglomerations, urban waste water entering collecting systems shall, prior to discharge, be subject to secondary treatment, or an equivalent treatment, by 31 December 2000. Discharges from urban waste water treatment plants must also satisfy the requirements of Annex IB to the Directive.

The UK Government pointed to difficulties experienced in some agglomerations, and stated that steps were being taken to remedy the situation.

The UK agreed with the Commission that at the expiry of the time limit laid down in the Directive and then the reasoned opinion of the Commission, urban waste water from the 13 agglomerations outlined was not the subject of the level of treatment required by the Directive.

The Court therefore held that the UK, in failing to take the necessary measures to ensure adequate treatment for urban waste water was provided to the agglomerations of Bangor, Brighton, Broadstairs, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Donaghadee, Larne, Lerwick, Londonderry, Margate, Newtownabbey, Omagh and Portrush by 31 December 2000, has failed in its obligations under Article 4(1) and (3) of the Directive.

The text of the case can be accessed at the following link.

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