Defra transfers liability for private sewage and lateral drains

Responsibility for private sewers and lateral drains has been transferred from householders to nine statutory water and sewerage companies (WaSCs) in England, according to a report by Defra today. The move will release householders from a liability that most are unaware they have.

Ian Pearson, minister for Climate Change and Environment, said: "Transfer of private sewers and lateral drains will relieve owners who currently bear the risk of costs for maintaining and repairing them, costs that can be worryingly high. Most private sewer owners do not even realise they have responsibility for their sewers until a problem occurs.”

Currently around 50% of properties connect to private sewers in some form or another and that most others connect to a public sewer by means of a lateral drain.

The change will mean an increase in bills of around £3 to £11 a year across the nine sewerage companies in England.

Pearson said: "As well as benefits to current private sewer owners, there will be environmental wins in having a much greater proportion of the sewer network in the management of the water and sewerage companies. They will be able to plan maintenance and resolve problems more easily and comprehensively.”

The initial private sewers review, prompted by the concerns of householders, began in 2001 with a consultation in 2003 revealing the need for government action.