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Motorhome confusion over hosepipe ban

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It remains unclear whether motorhomers in parts of southern England will face a £1,000 fine if they use a hosepipe to fill their motorhomes' water tanks following the introduction of a hosepipe ban next month

Six water companies across the south and southeast - South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East – will impose hosepipe bans from April 5.

Another, Southern Water, will introduce restrictions that may include a hosepipe ban.

The bans are the result of the drought conditions now affecting the south and east of England.

“East Anglia and southeast England are in drought. Parts of central England, southwest England and southeast Yorkshire continue to be affected by dry weather. It’s anticipated that the risk of drought in the spring and summer in these areas is high,” said the Environment Agency, which warned that parts of Yorkshire may be included within the drought area soon.

But with just days to go before the bans come into force, there remains confusion over what is and what isn’t covered by the restrictions.

For example, a spokesman for Southern Water, which will not be imposing a hosepipe ban from April 5, but will be restricting the use of water - which it said may or may not include the use of a hosepipe (confused yet?), said: “Restrictions will be imposed on the use of hosepipes to fill tanks in motorhomes/caravans but not if the tank is being filled for domestic purposes (i.e. washing, cooking and toilet facilities).

"However, if the tank is filled using a hosepipe and the water is then used to water a garden or wash the motorhome or caravan then the use of a hosepipe is prohibited.

“Anyone who contravenes the prohibitions may be guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,000.”

How exactly it will be proved what the water in the tank was going to be used for was not explained, but it is clear that motorhomers must not use the water in the tanks for anything other than 'domestic' tasks such as washing, and cooking.

This could also mean that anyone filling their motorhome's water tanks using a hosepipe could be reported for contravening the restrictions by, for example, a nosy neighbour.

If you live in the Southern Water region you can insert your postcode by clicking here to find out if Southern Water’s restrictions apply to you.

The confusion over what will and will not be banned is added to by the fact that the precise terms of each hosepipe ban is down to the individual water companies to determine.

What is clear is that the bans, which will affect millions of people, will make it illegal to use hosepipes for activities such as filling ponds or paddling/swimming pools or watering gardens.

However, when asked by MMM whether the ban would mean it would be illegal to fill motorhome tanks using a hosepipe, only four water companies confirmed such an activity would be exempt.

The others have so far failed to clarify the situation, which leaves a question over whether it will be legal or not to use a hosepipe to fill water tanks after April 5.

In addition one of those companies that has confirmed filling motorhome water tanks is exempt has warned that the restrictions may change following a consultation.

The four companies to confirm it will remain legal to use a hosepipe to fill water tanks are Thames Water, South East Water, Veolia and Anglian Water.

A spokesman for South East Water said: “From April 5…motorhomers are free to fill up their internal water tanks using a hosepipe at home or on a campsite provided that this water is for domestic use i.e. washing, cooking and flushing toilets. The hosepipe ban does not allow owners to wash the motorhome itself using a hosepipe. The maximum penalty for doing this is £1,000.”

However, the company warned that the exemption could be removed following a consultation that it is currently carrying out on its hosepipe restrictions.

“This consultation is open to any of our customers including those with motorhomes to comment on. The consultation closes on 29 March and after that time we will publish our final plan.”

MMM recommends motorhomers within the South East Water region should contribute to the consultation asking that the exemption is not removed. You can find details of the consultation here

Veolia has taken a similar stand, saying: “Filling water tanks in a caravan or motorhome is not covered by the ban, if the water is to be used for washing, cooking or sanitation purposes.”

Thames Water also said that if motorhomers are just filling up their tanks to use the water in the motorhome for drinking, washing, cooking, etc. then that will not be breaking the law.

“They would only be contravening the ban if they subsequently drew water from that tank by hosepipe for use in one of the eleven prohibited categories,” said a spokesman.

However, Anglian Water only confirmed that motorhomers would be exempt from the ban after MMM sent a petitioning letter.

Following the submission of the letter, Anglian Water said it will now exempt motorhomes from the ban.

“We can confirm that the use of a hosepipe to fill water tanks on motor homes is entirely acceptable under the terms of the hosepipe ban,” said a spokesman.

“This is considered essential for sanitary reasons, as well as drinking and cooking, whilst such vehicles are in use, hence its exemption from the ban.”

However, the other companies have still not clarified whether motorhomers will risk a fine by simply filling their motorhome’s water tank using a hosepipe.

It has also emerged that motorhomers may also risk falling foul of the ban by replenishing their tanks from standpipes on smaller CS and CLs, which, unlike commercial and club-operated campsites, may not be exempt from the ban.

In the letter sent to Anglian and Thames Water – two of the largest water companies – requesting an exemption, MMM managing editor Daniel Attwood said: “A tankful of water will last a motorhoming couple two to three days and is a far more efficient use of water than the typical adult’s domestic water consumption of 145 litres a day.
“The water motorhomers use is for drinking, washing and other essential uses and they are far more conscious of the volume they are using than the majority of consumers.

“Imposing restrictions on where and when motorhomers can refill their vehicles is likely be counterproductive, prompting long-term tourers to fill their tanks at every opportunity and ‘hoard’ water they may not actually require.”

Both major clubs are seeking clarification on the ban, but don’t believe that their club-owned site networks will be affected.

Head of sites operations at the Caravan Club Neil Windeatt is preparing to issue advice to the entire sites network – including several thousand CLs – clarifying the situation.

A Camping and Caravanning Club spokesperson said they were looking into the implications of the ban for all campers.

As well as adding your comments below, you can also join in the debate on the forum about the imminent hosepipe ban here

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