The European Investment Bank (EIB) signed today a loan of GBP 59 million in support of Water Service's large-scale investment programme to upgrade and expand N. Ireland's water infrastructure. The project will improve the quality of drinking water, in accordance with EU legislation.

The first major Private Public Partnership (PPP) in the drinking water sector in Northern Ireland. EIB will provide funding alongside RBC Capital Markets and ING to the private sector partner, Dalriada Water Ltd, a special purpose company selected following an international call for tender. Dalriada is owned by Kelda Water Services Ltd, a subsidiary of Kelda Group and Earth Tech.. It will design, build, finance and operate four upgraded Water Treatment Works, under a 25-year contract granted by the Department for Regional Development Water Service.

This is the second PPP project supported by the EIB in Northern Ireland, following the upgrade of the Westlink motorway in February 2006. The EIB has been one of the single biggest European financiers of PPPs over the past fifteen years, and has therefore developed a recognised expertise in that field. Its total exposure to PPPs in various Member States exceeds 20 billion euros, most of which have been concentrated in the UK and Portugal although some have also been carried out in Greece, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany and Poland.

EIB plays an active role in promoting the environmental policy of the European Union. This project will provide about 50% of Northern Ireland's water capacity, and ensure full compliance with two EU directives on drinking water. The EIB devotes a third of its individual loans within the European Union to environmental projects, which over the past 5 years, has amounted to 49 billion euros.

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term lending institution, finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular: regional development; research, development and innovation; trans-European transport, telecom and energy networks; industrial competitiveness; SMEs, and environmental protection. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the EU's policy for co-operation and development. Owned by its Member States, the EIB raises its funds on the capital markets (AAA-rated issuer). In 2005, it borrowed EUR 50bn and lent a total of EUR 47bn, of which EUR 42bn in the EU-25.