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Let us suppose you have a little shooting hut with an off-grid water supply, where you have your shoot lunches. Or perhaps a little cabin in the woods that you use as a base for stalking. Maybe you rent a bothy somewhere up in the Highlands during the hind season. Or you might use one of those fishing huts alongside a river. You know the sort of thing. But what you probably don?t know, however, is that the enactment of new private water supplies regulations may be about to cost you a lot of money and hassle. Yet, if you don?t comply, you could be fined a huge sum of money ? or even bunged into jail.

As usual, the problems started in Europe. Or rather, the EU. The unelected officials of this body, bored and looking for something to regulate, hit on the idea of sticking their noses into people?s private water supplies. Not only would this satisfy the urge to interfere, it could also be used to raise revenue to fund the state apparatus and all those incredible index-linked pensions. So they drafted an EU directive about monitoring private water supplies, supposedly in the interests of public health.

Costly new regime

The officials passed their draft directive to the European Parliament, where it was rubber-stamped by MEPs. That?s how the EU works. You see, the unelected, massively overpaid, faceless officials are in charge, rather than the elected, massively overpaid, faceless politicians.

Having brought in a new EU directive, it was then incumbent upon member states to incorporate the EU?s demands into our own domestic legislation. And so we come to the latest private water supply regulations, which are just beginning to bite as cash-strapped local councils eagerly latch on to this new source of revenue.

In essence, it you have a private water supply that serves more than a single dwelling, or any place with some commercial activity ? a single B&B room, for instance ? then the local council wants you on their register. And when they?ve got your details, they will then demand access for a full risk assessment of your water supply system, as well as then regularly testing the water itself against the latest, very stringent standards. Oh, and they will charge you for the pleasure of all this, whether you want the service or not. The costs could be hundreds of pounds in some cases.

Local authorities have no real idea of how many off-grid properties are on their patch. Their records are hopelessly outdated and incomplete. So they have started sending out stamped addressed envelopes to everybody on their current lists, trying to elicit incriminating information about these and any other properties. (Perhaps they are also searching through rubbish bins for more evidence ? who knows?)

Being law-abiding Brits, we tend to comply with officialdom, of course. But does anybody seriously imagine that smallholders in Greece and Italy are stumping up for risk assessments? Are they hell.

Anyway, I myself have a private water supply (several, in fact). For years, we have had an efficient system of filters and UV disinfection. I get my water tested on a regular basis. I prefer it to the chlorinated recycled sewage provided by the local water company.

As my private borehole supplies only my own home, I may be able to fend off the local authority snoopers ? for now, anyway. But spare a thought for all those folk who run small rural B&B outfits and campsites and who will find themselves facing what amounts to a tax on their own private water. What next ? a tax on air?

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