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Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress his Department has made on transferring ownership of private sewers to water and sewerage companies; and if he will make a statement. (179399)

The Government announced on 22 February 2007 that they had decided to transfer existing private sewers and lateral drains in England into the ownership of the water and sewerage companies, as the most comprehensive solution to the problems faced by householders whose properties are connected to a private sewer or drain. Transfer will apply to all private sewers and lateral drains that drain to the public network. It will bring clarity for owners, local authorities and sewerage companies. It will also significantly help address a lack of integrated management of the sewerage network as a whole, and provide greater efficiency of effort, environmental stewardship and expenditure.

The Government undertook to consult further on options for the implementation of transfer and a public consultation ran from July to October 2007 seeking views on options and also considered questions of the scope of transfer and the prevention of new private sewers.

The responses are currently being considered and will inform the regulations needed to bring transfer into effect. As required, there will be a further consultation on these regulations in 2008. Once Parliament has approved the regulations transfer will be a statutory duty for Water and Sewerage Companies in the form and to the timetable set out in the regulations.