Rugby and Bulkington MP Mark Pawsey spoke in the Chamber of the House of Commons last week to highlight the difficulties being faced by homeowners looking to extend their properties when their planned improvements are within 3 metres of a formerly private sewer.

In 2011, after a long campaign by local residents including Rugby’s Pam Brockway and Roy Barnes of the Woodlands Residents Association, the law was changed regarding the ownership of private sewers. Prior to 2011 private sewers were the responsibility of homeowners and many were faced with large, and unexpected, bills if problems arose with the sewers. Thanks to the changes in the law private sewers were adopted by the ten statutory water companies meaning more protection for homeowners.

Mark said:

“Homeowners across the country owe people like Pam Brockway and Roy Barnes of the Woodlands Residents Association an enormous debt of gratitude for their tireless work to have private sewers adopted by the water authorities in 2011. They campaigned for over 12 years but their hard work paid off.”

Mark continued:

“The changes brought about the adoption of private sewers in 2011 protected homeowners from large bills for sewers on the land which they often did not know they had responsibility for. However, last year I was made aware that many homeowners were being frustrated by the water companies in their efforts to improve their properties if the improvements were planned within 3 metres of an adopted sewer.”

Mark concluded:

“The change in the law of ownership of private sewers was hard fought for a widely welcomed and I fully support it. What is now needed, to further support homeowners, is for the water companies to adopt a firm set of rules regarding how they deal with applications to build on, or around, adopted sewers.”

Responding on behalf of the Government, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice MP paid tribute to the “sterling efforts” of Rugby resident Pam Brockway in “bringing this unfair practice of passing the cost on to individual home owners to the attention of Government, which resulted in legislative changes.” The Minister also confirmed his support for a “voluntary code of conduct” to be adopted by the water authorities to prevent further problems for homeowners as highlighted by Mark in the debate.

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