NEW sewage surcharges will not drive restaurants out of business, the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Bowen Leung Po-wing, said yesterday. He denied claims by restaurateurs that they would have to lay off staff or close because of the charges. Mr Leung said the basic sewage disposal charge would account for around one per cent of the operating costs of a restaurant, depending on how much sewage it produced and whether it was in a water-control zone. However, the restaurant industry has been complaining that the sewage surcharge was twice the size of a restaurant's water bill because restaurants had to pay an extra surcharge on top of the basic levy. Mr Leung said restaurants with oil filters would not have to pay the extra surcharge.