SUSSEX water bills are set to soar to pay for a super-sewer in London.

Thames Water chiefs say that thousands of householders in the Crawley and Horsham area will see their waste water charges rise to fund the Thames Tunnel, which will prevent millions of tonnes of sewage entering the River Thames each year.

The utility company’s sustainability director, Richard Aylard, told a g roup of MPs that the £65 per year increase in annual bills needed to fund the £3.6 billion sewer will never fall back to current levels.

The estimated construction cost of the sewer has more than doubled since the scheme was first mooted in 2002.

A spokesperson for Thames Water said it was only fair that bill increases were shared across the region.

‘Big improvements’

He said: “Customers outside of London have seen big environmental improvements from our investments in sewage treatment locally, while paying the lowest water bills in the country for most of the past 20 years, as it costs much less to serve the capital’s dense population than it does in other areas.

“Ofwat sets limits on water bills in line with the work that water companies need to do and will scrutinise the Thames Tunnel costs to ensure they are kept as low as possible.”

But critics said increasing numbers of Sussex residents were starting to question whether the London tunnel was wor th the huge financial costs.

They warned Thames Water customers in Sussex could be “sleep-walking into a £4,000 water bill life sentence” if the company is allowed to bulldoze its controversial super-sewer plans.

Crawley MP Henry Smith said he was extremely concerned that his constituents will pay for something from which they will see no benefit.

He said: “I have asked for a meeting with Thames Water to put to them my concerns.

“I am joining with a g roup of MPs in the South East to protest against what does seem a very unfair situation.”