Long-running legal battle over sewer system

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Councillors and residents have been celebrating this week after winning a long-running legal battle with Severn Trent Water over the provision of a public sewer in Sterndale Moor.

In April 2009, High Peak borough councillor John Faulkner applied to Severn Trent Water for the domestic properties in Sterndale Moor - whi ch are currently connected to a single tank via a network of private sewer systems - to be connected to the main sewer.

However, his application was refused in 2011 by Severn Trent Water who said the problems experienced by residents with the existing private sewerage systems could be overcome through the repair and maintenance of those systems.

Cllr Faulkner subsequently appealed against the decision to the Environment Agency and the organisation has this week issued its decision notice, which rules in the councillor’s favour.

The Environment Agency’s decision notice states: “The agency finds that, in this case, the most appropriate solution to alleviate the adverse environmental and amenity effects is the provision of a public sewer.

“Accordingly, the agency having regard to the ministerial guidance and all relevant considerations in this particular case, including, in particular, technical factors, finds that the replacement of the existing private sewerage system is not considered to be an appropriate solution.

“For the reasons set out above, the agency finds that the duty to provide a public sewer does apply to the premises in Sterndale Moor and that the company is under a duty to provide a public sewer.

“The Environment Agency recommends that the company should inform the applicant and the Environment Agency, within a period of three months, of when the scheme will be carried out.”

Commenting on the decision, Cllr Faulkner said: “This problem has been an increasing health and environment risk over many years. It is complicated and has been compounded by ownership issues.

“I have no doubt that this decision is the only viable solution and I am absolutely delighted for the residents of Sterndale Moor”.

And Cllr Kevin Kirkham, of Hartington Upper Quarter Parish Council, added: “This is extremely good news and on behalf of everyone I would like to thank Cllr Faulkner for all his work on this over more than four years.”