Mr. John D. Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what plans she has to amend the Water and Sewerage Service (Northern Ireland) Order 1973 in order to empower the Water Service to enter third party land for the purposes of laying a private supply pipe; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) if officials in her Department will meet the Ulster Farmers' Union to discuss the ability of the Water Service to lay private water supply pipes across a third party's land without the third party's consent; 
(3) on how many occasions in the last two years a landowner has notified her Department that he is unable to obtain water due to the refusal of a third party to allow the Water Service to enter for the purposes of laying a private supply pipe. 54W
§ Mr. Paul Murphy
Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Water Service under its chief executive, Mr. H. R. F. Plester. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from H.R. F. Plester to Mr. John D. Taylor, dated 4 February 1998.The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your three recent parliamentary questions about private supply pipes. You asked if there are plans to amend the Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1973 ("the 1973 Order") to empower the Water Service to enter third party land for the purposes of laying a private supply pipe and if the Department's officials will meet the Ulster Farmers Union to discuss the ability of the Water Service to lay private water supply pipes across a third party's land without the third party's consent. You also asked me how many occasions in the last two years a landowner has notified the Department that he is unable to obtain water due to the refusal of a third party to allow the Water Service to enter for the purposes of laying a private supply pipe.While the Department has a duty under the 1973 Order to supply and distribute water, its powers of entry to private land are limited to the laying of watermains, which are vested in the Department and are for the purpose of giving a general supply of water. This is district from private supply pipes which belong to the owner of the land in which they are laid and which supply individual consumers or which, by agreement, cross a third party's land to supply an individual consumer. The Department's position reflects that under which the water supply undertakers in the rest of the United Kingdom operate.It is, therefore, the responsibility of individuals seeking a water supply from the Department's watermains to arrange for the laying of any necessary length of private supply pipe to the watermain. This includes making any access arrangements with the owners of any private lands which may need to be crossed in order to make a connection to a watermain. The Department's current powers are sufficient to enable it to exercise its functions under the 1973 Order and it would not be appropriate for it to seek a power to enter private land to carry out work solely on behalf of a private individual. There are, therefore, no plans to seek an amendment to the 1973 Order.As regards a meeting with the Ulster Farmers Union, the Water Service's Director of Operations would be happy to meet the Union to discuss any difficulties its members may have because they are unable to lay a private supply pipe across third party land. Perhaps the Union would contact my office to make the arrangements.It is an important consideration that we must be mindful of the rights and interests of those farmers whose lands may be traversed by any proposed private supply pipes. They are affected in significant degree as well as those individuals seeking the laying of such a connection across third party lands to a watermain.The Water Service does not maintain records of representations made to it by individuals who have been denied access to third party lands to lay private supply pipes. As I have explained, the Water Service would not seek entry to third party lands to lay private supply pipes as this is a matter for all the private property holders involved to resolve by negotiation and agreement. I am, however, aware of difficulty being experienced by one of your constituents in laying a service pipe across third party land and I wrote to you about this on 15 August and 22 September 1997.