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ENVIRONMENT AGENCY DEFEATED OVER MAIN SEWERAGE CONNECTION SCHEMES

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The Environment Agency has failed in an appeal court test case challenge to a high court order that it must re-thin...
The Environment Agency has failed in an appeal court test case challenge to a high court order that it must re-think decisions in November and December 1999 that Anglian Water Services Ltd is under a duty to provide public sewers to serve the villages in Buckinghamshire and Norfolk.

Many main sewerage connections schemes across the country have been put on hold pending yesterday's ruling which centred on the villages of Bent Hill, Buckinghamshire and Wretton, Norfolk.

Anglian had decided it was not under a duty to provide first time sewerage since statutory conditions were not met. In the case of Bent Hill Anglian took the view that a common private package plant was the most appropriate solution and in Wretton it had decided it would only provide first time sewerage in certain parts of the village.

When residents challenged Anglian's stance the Environment Agency ruled against Anglian in each case, holding that Anglian was under a duty to provide public sewerage.

But the high court judge ruled that in each of the four cases the Environment Agency should look at the matters afresh saying that the matter should be 'completely re-considered.'

Now the appeal court has backed that ruling holding that a water and sewerage undertaker is not obliged to provide a public sewer under section 101A of the Water Industry Act 1991 to all premises in a particular locality in its area.

The court was told that the cost of providing complete village connection at Wretton is estimated to be in region of£1.6m as opposed to£713,000 for part coverage.

Dismissing the Environment Agency's appeal yesterday, Lord justice Laws said the agency had taken into account an irrelevant consideration in allowing its decision to be driven by the absence of agreement among the residents.

'In consequence, as in effect the judge held, it failed to embark upon any objective consideration of the practicability of a private scheme', he said.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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