Over 400,000 households could face septic tank charge

 MORE than 400,000 households will have to register their septic tanks by February 1 next or face the prospect of being fined up to €5,000.

 septic tank charges

 The Government today announced new rules on septic tanks which will oblige homeowners to make sure they are working properly and not polluting water.

An inspection regime will begin next year, Environment Minister Phil Hogan said, adding it would cost households €5 to register their tank up to September 28 next, after which it would increase to €50.

There will be no charge for inspections.

The inspection regime is being introduced after the European Court of Justice ruled that Ireland was not doing enough to protect drinking water sources.

 Mr Hogan said that in a small number of cases, septic tanks might have to be upgraded. Some financial assistance might be available, he added.

 Registration will last for five years, and there will be no fee for second or subsequent registrations.

 

Surprise visitor: squatting wombat blocks stormwater pipe

There are many things that could block a stormwater drain. But a wombat?

blocked rain water drain

Imagine the surprise on the faces of the people at the Launceston City Council when they stumbled across a furry critter while viewing video from a stormwater pipe survey recently.

The shy little squatter was discovered by engineering development officer Sonia Smith, The Examiner reports.

Ms Smith said that one of the tasks council asked developers to undertake when building a new subdivision was to ensure all their stormwater pipes were working.

“They do that by conducting a remote video camera survey, and they then send the videos into us,” Ms Smith said.

“The equipment they use is basically a remote controlled camera, driven by a joystick.

“Sometimes in these videos you see the odd rat or spider, but this is the first time I’ve seen a wombat.”

Ms Smith said the wombat found his or her way into the pipe because it was open at one end.

“It’s a 300mm pipe, which is the smallest we use, but it appears that it might be a perfect size for a wombat burrow,” she said.

Ms Smith said the wombat will be respectfully nudged on to a new burrow and access to the pipe will be blocked.

A pensioner is urging others to challenge water company’s bills

A pensioner who has seen her surface water drainage charge rescinded has called on Yorkshire Water to clarify the rules over who should pay the rate and why.

Jean Pearson, 66, of Dewhirst Close, Baildon, challenged the charge after reading a letter in the Telegraph & Argus questioning why it existed at all.

rain water tax
Bradford-based Yorkshire Water has called on residents to contact them if they believe they are not connected to the surface water drainage system, to make sure customers are paying the right amount.

But Mrs Pearson has said the water company should already know who is connected and has criticised them for not explaining well enough what the £40-per-year charge is for.

She said: “They’ve dropped my charge – if they have dropped mine they have got to drop hundreds of others all across the district and beyond because why am I different?

“There’s hundreds of people living in the same type of flats like me – there’s a hundred around here so that’s £4,000 they are getting from just around here.

“So they have to quantify what is surface water drainage. How are we to identify what runs into what? There are sewers and grates all over.

“And the fact remains they have dropped my charge simply because I rang them and questioned them.

“Sewage is a separate charge, it’s itemised on the bill. The water from all properties ends up in the ground or in the water sewerage system, so what is the charge for?”

Mrs Pearson’s MP, Philip Davies, has also taken up her cause and contacted Yorkshire Water and Ofwat about the charge.

Yorkshire Water have now said they are sending officers to assess whether Mrs Pearson’s neighbours are connected.

Dean Stewart, regulatory service manager at Yorkshire Water, said the charge was for removing rain water from properties, which would otherwise cause flooding.

He said: “So every single household pays the same amount because we can’t measure how much rainwater goes back into the sewerage system.

“Because it’s rainwater, clearly there’s no way we could possibly do that, so we need a definite broad charge.

“All domestics are charged exactly the same amount, if they actually have surface water drainage.

“If they don’t have any surface water drainage then we don’t charge them at all – it could just run off to a soakaway, or they could have a big back garden.”

Mr Stewart said since the year 2000, when it was included in the overall sewage charge, the water company had separated the rate on customers’ bills and included leaflets urging those who think they may not use the system to contact them to prevent them from subsidising those who do use it.

A move which, he warned, could lead to other customers seeing an increase in their bills.

He said: “We actually want to know because we want to make sure customers are paying the right amount.

“We set the charge in the following years – what we would do is take into account there are fewer people paying that tariff, so the cost overall could go up for those that are actually connected.

“So we could argue that those that are not connected but are paying it are basically subsidising those.”

Residents who feel they may not need to pay the rate have been asked to contact Yorkshire Water on 0845 1242 424.

Rats infest Cheltenham homes after freak rain

HEAVY rain and warm weather have caused a surge of rats to infest homes across Cheltenham.

Thousands of the rodents are building nests close to properties in some of the classiest areas of the town, a pest control expert has warned.

And the problem is getting worse, with some residents now having as many as 600 rats within 20 foot of their homes.

Recent summer rain has been blamed for the sudden increase in the number, with many trying to escape rising water levels.

Phil John.has blamed the recent floods for flushing out the rats and forcing them to find new homes. And he warned that, as developers tried to find new spots to build homes, the situation was likely to get worse.

He claimed that rats were frequently as close as just 6ft away from a residential home, depending on the area.

Mr John, who has worked as a gamekeeper and Government wildlife officer before becoming a pest controller, said he had been called to properties across Cheltenham.

Recent cases have seen him travel to Prestbury, Charlton Kings and Bishop’s Cleeve.

He said: “Rats are never going to be that far away from anyone. I have been to homes where there have been between 400 and 600 rats.

“I have been to deal with cases all around Cheltenham – Bath Road, London Road, The Reddings.

“I have got more rat work now than a few years ago. The councils used to do more but now they have either cut back or have stopped altogether.

“The problem has got worse since the flooding, when we have seen the population of rats increase. Rats have come up from the lower ground and have not gone back.”

He warned that, when old buildings were converted or when farmland was used for development, the rats already living on the land would simply stay on – infesting any new homes constructed on the spot.

“When they start building on land like at Oakley or in Bishop’s Cleeve, there is nowhere for the animals to go,” said Mr John.

“Instead, people are simply creating the perfect habitat for them to breed and survive.”

With the high birth rate, one rat can multiply into 200 individuals within a year.

Barbara Exley, head of public protection for Cheltenham Borough Council, conceded the rodent population was on the rise.

“The general trend is that there are more rats across the country,” she said.

“However in Cheltenham the number of requests for our service is steady, although this does fluctuate depending on the time of year.”

Tewkesbury Borough Council now uses outside contractors to deal with any requests for pest control.

Residential services manager David Steels said: “We have only had one query about rats since the heavy rain, which is typical for this period.

“If someone has a problem, we advise to employ a pest control contractor.”

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Woman ‘left in fear as rats invade her home’

A WOMAN was left distraught and in fear for her health after what her family said was a bungled plumbing job which led to a rat infestation in her housing association property. 

Stella Cook, 76, has been a tenant of York-based Yorkshire Housing – formerly the Ryedale Housing Association – for almost 20 years. 

She was shocked when her Flaxton cottage was overrun with the dangerous rodents after the organisation fitted a new toilet. 

A concerned relative of Mrs Cook contacted The Press to voice anger at Yorkshire Housing’s handling of the problem. 

They claimed that Mrs Cook discovered a plumber, sent by her landlords to fit the toilet, had accidentally left a drain uncovered. 

Since then, they said, she had seen several rats in almost every room in the house, including her bedroom. 

The asthma sufferer paid for pest control herself, amid claims the housing association refused to temporarily relocate her away from the one-bedroom property. 

According to the family member, who wishes to remain anonymous, the only help offered was for the agency to come and collect the dead animals once they had been poisoned – yet three rats remained at large in the bungalow. 

The relative said: “She’s frightened out of her wits. 

“They say there’s only so much they can do until the rats are dead – but they won’t consider moving her.” 

The rodents, which can spread fatal infections such as Weil’s disease, pose a health hazard. 

Mrs Cook’s family has now offered her accommodation in their own homes until the situation is resolved. 

Yorkshire Housing HomeWorks did not directly respond to the family’s claims that plumbers had left a drain cover open, and that it would not consider rehousing Mrs Cook. 

However, Phil Royales, Head of Yorkshire Housing HomeWorks said: “We regret that Mrs Cook has experienced rats in her home.

“We are aware that rats do live in the vicinity of Mrs Cook’s home and have liaised with Mrs Cook to manage the situation. 

“Yorkshire Housing Contractors have visited her home in response to calls to our Repairs Helpdesk, and advised Mrs Cook to contact Environmental Health or Pest Control to humanely catch the rats, as per our usual procedures. 

“We will continue to work with Mrs Cook to find a solution,” said Mr Royales.

If you have rats in your home visit the guys at www.ratdetection.com, they investigate to find how rats enter you home and then STOP THEM !

Scottish Water wins Qatar drainage contract

Scottish waters fledgling international arm has won a multi-million dollar contract to help Qatar ensure its drainage systems are of the highest standard as the Gulf state prepares for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

Scottish Water is acting as a sub-contractor to US-headquartered consulting, engineering and construction services company MWH Global, which has been appointed by Qatar’s public works authority, Ashghal, as management contractor for the Gulf state’s drainage asset management programme.

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The programme is part of Qatar’s National Vision 2030 infrastructure investments including highways, interchanges, railways, utilities and related services. It is expected that work will begin immediately.

MWH and Scottish Water will manage the full operation and maintenance of all drainage assets including the wastewater treatment and collection systems, treated sewage effluent systems, stormwater and surface groundwater systems.

“MWH is bringing together a team of international experts and the latest asset management technology to help the Qatar Public Works Authority achieve its rapid expansion plans and develop this significant wet infrastructure project,” said Alan Krause, MWH Global president and CEO. 

“We look forward to the opportunity to serve the needs of the citizens of Qatar to help meet the objectives of their National Development Strategy and facilitate the development of their drainage infrastructure,” he added.

MWH Global is a strategic consulting, technical engineering and construction services firm with 7,500 employees in 35 countries.