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The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide GBP 500 million to support investment across the north-west of England by United Utilities. The 18 year loan from Europe’s long-term lending institution will be used to finance improvements to the region’s water and wastewater networks as part of United Utilities’ GBP 3.5 billion capital investment programme for the 2015 to 2020 regulatory period. As the North West’s water and wastewater company, United Utilities serves seven million domestic customers and 200,000 business customers.

Local schemes being supported by the new European Investment Bank loan include the proposed pipeline to link West Cumbria to Thirlmere and the rest of the regional water network; work in Blackpool to increase the capacity of the sewer network and reduce the impact of storm overflows on bathing waters; and a major scheme to upgrade and replace half of the treatment process at the company’s largest wastewater treatment works at Davyhulme. Capital investment backed by the European Investment Bank loan also includes enabling customers to better manage water use through water meters.

United Utilities’ investment programme builds on the successes of the previous five-year period, supported by previous loans from the EIB. These include the completion of a £200 million extension to Liverpool wastewater treatment works – hailed as a milestone in the clean-up of the River Mersey and the regeneration of the city waterfront. Other schemes that have benefitted from the funding include the West East Link water pipeline between Liverpool and Bury and the SBAP sludge recycling centre in Manchester.

The first GBP 250 million of the new loan was signed earlier this week and the second half is expected to be signed as the United Utilities capital investment programme progresses.

Russ Houlden, Chief Financial Officer at United Utilities, said: “ Russ Houlden, Chief Financial Officer at United Utilities, said: “In 2015-20 we are delivering an investment programme of around £3.5bn for the benefit of customers and the environment and to improve our ability to cope with climate change. We aim to do this at the lowest sustainable cost possible in order to keep bills down and this low cost funding from the EIB helps us to give our customers excellent value for the bills they pay.”

“The European Investment Bank has provided GBP 2.25 billion over the last 12 years to support investment by United Utilities that benefits customers, the environment and the north-west regional economy. We are pleased to continue this strong engagement with United Utilities that will ensure that water infrastructure can cope with the region’s growing population and business sector, help customers to save money and ensure services are maintained during dry spells or heavy rain. As the largest lender to the UK water sector since before privatisation the European Investment Bank recognises United Utilities’ commitment to offer graduate and apprenticeship schemes and work with local suppliers to maximise the impact of their ongoing investment.” said Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank Vice President.

The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank and is 16% owned by the UK government.

In the last 10 years the European Investment Bank has provided nearly GBP 5.3 billion for direct investment across the north-west, with additional investment from UK wide programmes. This has included support for the new Alder Hey in the Park and Royal Liverpool University Hospitals, Manchester Metrolink, upgrading the West Coast Mainline, investment at Halewood and providing half the financing for the Liverpool 2 Port scheme. The EIB has also supported investment in new schools in Manchester, Stockport, Wigan, Blackpool, Halton and Chester and social housing across the region including in Toxteth, Chester and Port Sunlight.

The European Investment Bank has provided more than GBP 12.6 billion for investment in water and waste water infrastructure across the UK since 1976, including expanding reservoirs, reducing leaks and protecting against flooding.

Lending by the EIB in the UK last year totalled GBP 5.6 billion and supported long-term investment in 40 projects across the country.  This represented the largest annual engagement since the start of EIB lending in the UK in 1973 which has supported nearly GBP 16 billion of overall investment.

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