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Volume 462: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when he expects the statutory instrument enabling the transfer of private sewers in the area including Lime Grove, Sittingbourne to the ownership of Southern Water will be (a) drafted, (b) made and (c) tabled; and if he will make a statement; (145746)

(2) what issues the forthcoming further public consultation on the transfer of private sewers to water companies will cover which (a) were and (b) were not raised in either of the two previous consultations on the transfer of private sewers; and what the reasons are for the further consultation.

In 2003, a public consultation reviewing existing private sewers in England and Wales sought views on a number of possible solutions to the problems caused by them, including the adoption of private sewers by water and sewerage undertakers.

The Government announced on 22 February that existing private sewers and lateral drains connected to the public sewer in England should be transferred into the ownership of the nine statutory water and sewerage companies. The Government undertook to consult on a range of ways transfer could be implemented and to examine how to prevent the proliferation of new private sewers. The consultation will also pose questions on the scope of assets to be included in transfer.

The consultation on implementation options will take place over the summer and will run for 12 weeks. Following this, regulations will be drafted, consulted on and amended accordingly. The timing of the process cannot be stated with any certainty, but the earliest date for regulations to be in force is likely to be summer 2008.