HC Deb 17 July 1997 vol 298 c283W
Ms Atherton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what responsibilities have been placed upon the water companies to control rat infestation of the sewerage system. [8451]

Angela Eagle

There is no specific duty on water and sewerage companies in relation to the control of rats in sewers. However, all sewerage undertakers have programmes to control and reduce the number of rats in their systems. This includes the use of baits in pumping stations and air vents to stop rats entering the system, or on ledges within sewers. In addition, I understand that the water industry will be undertaking some research into the issue of rats in sewers early next year.

Local authorities have a long standing duty to keep themselves informed about the sufficiency of drainage systems in their area to ensure that they do not pose a threat to public health. Failure to control rat infestations on property could be enforceable by the Local Authority Environmental Health Officer under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, if it is judged to be a statutory nuisance.

I have no plans at present to introduce legislation to regulate the performance of sewerage undertakers in this field.