Small dairy farmers in West Dorset could be amongst those worst hit by new charges for inspecting private water suppliers.
New Delhi, November 07, 2018: New fees could push charges up by between 50 and more than 350 per cent.
More than 600 private water supplies are known about across the Dorset Councils partnership area – 547 in West Dorset, one in Weymouth and Portland and 59 in North Dorset.
West Dorset district councillors expressed concern at a strategy committee meeting in Dorchester on Thursday that some dairy farmers who use private supplies could be asked to pay more than they could afford.
“It could be a massive increase for some,” warned Dorchester councillor Susie Hosford.
She said that many small dairy farms locally used the same water supply for washing down their yards and also for cleaning their tanks, as well as washing through lines.
Cllr Tim Yarker agreed it was of concern – and that there would be charges, as he understood it, if the water was used for jobs which impacted on the food chain, unless the farmers could segregate the two uses according to wessexfm.com.
Council leader Tony Alford said he could understand the concern but felt that for most dairy farmers it would not be an issue: “I am sure most farmers are pretty sensible people and will organise their affairs in a way which works for them,” he said.
Councillors agreed a policy of fully charging for the inspection service which is now in force as a result of new regulations to protect public health.
It will mean more frequent testing and a commonly agreed standard which has to be met. Until now the council has been allowed some discretion in which parameters it uses.
Local private supplies go to homes and businesses, mostly on a small scale, but 133 are for two or more homes or businesses with 137 classified as ‘large’ including commercial use, hotel, restaurants and bed and breakfast establishments.
Council officers says it is difficult to assess what the likely costs will be in each case and, for most , this will depend on the frequency of testing and whether or not any re-sampling is needed after remedial works.
For commercial and large supplies the expected laboratory fee alone will go up from £69.65 a year to a minimum of £511.60 – while small domestic charges for laboratory testing are expected to rise from £41 every five years to a minimum of £65.05.
In addition there are charges for collecting and transporting samples to the laboratory and for any follow-up testing should samples not meet the minimum standards.
A specialist contractor is being employed locally by the council to carry out risk assessment on private supplies between now and next April.