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Volume 475: debated on Friday 16 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on transferring ownership of private sewers to water companies since the consultation in 2004. (205874)

The Government Response Paper published in October 2004 acknowledged that transfer of ownership to sewerage undertakers would result in far-reaching changes and that further work was needed to understand the implications. Since then DEFRA has undertaken this work, which has included further cost estimates, a stakeholder seminar and qualitative customer research. Details of this work can be found on the DEFRA website.

As a result, the Government announced in February 2007 their decision to transfer private sewers and lateral drains draining to the public sewerage system into water company ownership. We subsequently published a public consultation in July 2007 on implementation options for the proposed transfer. The consultation also posed questions on the scope of assets to be included in the transfer and ways in which the creation of new private sewers can be prevented.

A summary of responses was published in March 2008 and we are currently preparing proposals for implementation with the help of a steering group of key stakeholders. The work of the steering group will inform the decision on the timing of transfer and the drafting of regulations for implementation. We expect to be in a position to consult on these regulations later this year.