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[CHANCERY DIVISION.] DURRANT 6. BRANKSOME URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL.
[APRIL 10TH, 1897.] Local Government-Drains-Right of Local Authority to Empty Drains
into the Natural Streams-- Public Health Act, 1875, ecc. 17. Mr. Justice NORTH gave an important decision as to the right- a right which his Lordship upheld-of local authorities, in making up new roads, to turn new surface water sewers into the natural watercourses of the basin in which such roads lie. The plaintiffs are the owners, as trustees, of the Durrant estate, a large property, in its general character a building estate, partly in West Bournemouth, partly in the district of the Branksome Urban Council. The upper part of the Bourne flows in a deep valley through the plaintiffs' property. A portion of the valley is let to the Bournemouth Corporation for the purpose of public gardens. Owing largely to the nature of the soil, the stream, which in times of flood is liable to overflow, brings down a quanty of sand and silt, much of which is deposited in the bed of the stream and tends to choke the channel. Certain measures are taken by the owners of the estate, by dams and by from time to time taking out the deposited silt, to obviate the evil thus caused. The defendant Council have recently taken in hand the making up of a number of roads in their district, almost entirely in the basin of the Bourne, and in so doing have laid down new surface water drains or sewers, which discharge into the upper part of the Bourne where it Hows through the Durrant estate. The usual gullies and catch pits have been constructed to stop a great deal of the silt from the road ; bat, especially in times of storm, a large quantity of such material is washed with the rain water into the stream. The plaintiffs complained that the increased flow caused by the defendants' work produced extra flooding and extra deposit of sand and silt, and sought an injunction to restrain such discharge of water, sand, silt, or solid matter through the deferidants' drains or other artificial works. The action was tried in July last, when his Lordship reserved judgment.
Mr. Justice North, in giving judgment, said that in making up the new streets the defendants had provided for the disposal of the surface water by separate drains, or what were properly called sewers, in the now usual mode. The work was, according to the evidence before him, of the best kind ; the result of the work was, that a considerable portion of the sand and silt washed from the roads was retained in catchpits and removed by the local authority, but it was impossible to retain the whole of it, and in times of floods the water could not be prevented from, to some extent, being charged with sand and mud. The plaintiffs complained of that, and said that the defendants could not do it. What was to be done with the surface water? It could not be left to stand on the road, because it would be insanitary, and when roads were made up they must be drained. The Public Health Act, 1875, provided what the defendants must do.
The 15th section provided : “Every local authority shall keep in repair all sewers belonging to them, and shall cause to be made such sewers as may be necessary for effectually draining their district for the purposes of this Act.” That provision only could be complied with by making drains for the purpose of carrying off the water. Where was it to go? It necessarily must get into the stream directly or indirectly, because that was the natural course which carried off the water of the district. Any one familiar with the banks of a stream knew that where it was crossed by a road, when there was rain, the first thing he saw was that, if the stream was very small, it became at once turbid below the road; if it were larger, there was a thin, turbid line near the bank which by degrees mixed with the whole stream, which became gradually coloured all through. It would be a very strange thing to be told that it was the duty of a local authority to keep the entire rainfall on the roads out of a stream. His Lordship thought such a contention would be contrary to the provisions of the Public Health Act itself; he had read section 15, which threw on the authority the duty of constructing proper sewers. Section 17, which was a sort of proviso on the preceding sections, beginning at section 13, relating to drainage and sewers, was : “Nothing in this Act shall authorise any local authority to make or use any sewer, drain, or outfall for the purpose of conveying sewage or filthy water into any natural stream or watercourse, or into any canal, pond, or lake until such sewage or filthy water is freed from all excrementitious, or other foul or noxious matter, such as would affect or deteriorate the purity and quality of the water in such stream or watercourse, or in such canal, pond, or lake.” That section, his Lordship thought, recognised, in the clearest way, that the Act provided the local authority should have the right to empty their drains into the natural streams ; it was clear that they might drain clear water, or what he might call cleaned water, into the streams of their district ; they might even turn sewage or filthy water into the streams, if it were freed from foul and noxious matter such as would affect the purity and quality of the water. It was said that a much greater amount of silt was deposited than before the drains were made. If, on this account, the plaintiffs were put to any extra expense, it might be that they would be eotitled to some compensation under the provisions of the Act. That gave them no right to restrain the authority from carrying out their duty. On the other hand, provision was made by section 299 of the Act for application to the Local Government Board, and subsequent legal proceedings, to compel the authority to do their duty in providing proper sewers. His Lordship dismissed the action with costs.-(T. L. R., Ch. D., vol. xiii., p. 359.)
Bairy Management and Agricultural Co-operation,
Paper read at a Meeting of the Somerset, Gloucester, and North Wilts
Provincial Committee of the Surveyors' Institution, on 13th April, 1897, by WILLIAM STURGE (Past- President).
On 8th March last, a Paper was read at an ordinary Meeting of The Surveyors' Institution by the Right Honourable Horace Plunkett, M.P., entitled “ Agricultural Co-operation," in which, after describing the results of a system of co-operation amongst Irish farmers, mainly established under his auspices, he appealed to the members of the Surveyor’s Institution to consider whether a similar system might not with advantage be introduced in England.
A discussion took place, which, with the exception of the mover and seconder of a vote of thanks to Mr. Plunkett, was entirely carried on by visitors, so that there was little or no opportunity for the Fellows and Associates of the Institution to express their views. The secretary has subsequently addressed a letter asking some of the members to send short papers for insertion in the volume of the “ Professional Notes” now about to be published. I have thought this a suitable opportunity to elicit the views of this Provincial Committee, representing, as it does, a large part of the West of England.
Mr. Plunkett commenced by referring to the co-operative societies established on the continent of Europe, and he then proceeded to describe the movement and its results in Ireland, the last country from which I should have expected that English farmers had anything to learn. The movement appears to be principally confined to co-operative dairying and a federation for trade purposes. It appears that, in the face of great difficulties, fifty-eight societies have been formed in Ireland, with a menn. bership of over 8,000, which make butter, and ten auxiliary societies which separate cream to be made into butter. Their buildings are estimated at a cost of £50,000, and their output at £300,000.
Before considering the advantages to be gained from agricultural co-operations in England, so far as butter is concerned, it is necessary to describe the present system, than which nothing can be more economical. The whole of the work is done at home by the man and his wife and daughters. If the farm is near a large town, the farmer either supplies
the shops at a wholesale price, or delivers the butter at the houses of private customers and obtains the full retail price. In this case I do not see what he is to gain from a co-operative butter factory. But if he has to supply the London market the case is different. What the dealers require is a large quantity of butter of uniform quality, such as is supplied from the factories of Denmark, Holstein, and other foreign parts. This cannot be obtained from private dairies, as the quality will vary both from difference of soil and in the skill of the dairywoman. Moreover, the farmer has to sell subject to two profits—those of the wholesale dealer and the retailer. A butter factory can turn out a large quantity of butter of uniform quality, and having the best modern separators and appliances, can produce the largest possible quantity of butter from a given quantity of milk-a pound of butter to 2} gallons of milk, instead of 3 or 3gallons by the shallow pan system. Then the dealer can depend on a regular constant supply, and may be content with a smaller profit, whilst the article will fetch a higher price in the market. I know of seven butter factories in Wiltshire, and five of them, situated at Devizes, Trow. bridge, Melksham, and Dauntsey, together with one at Frome in Somerset, that have recently ainalgamated into one company called the “ Wilts United Dairies, Limited.” Whether they are cu-operative I am not aware ; but farmers have bad the opportunity of becoming shoreholders in common with the public at large. A very large number of farmers deliver their milk daily, and I have no doubt a first-rate article is manu. factured which finds a ready market in London.
In fact a great revolution has taken place in the dairy industry of North Wilts ; formerly, and still to a considerable extent noted for the production of cheese known as “ Double Wilts," for which Chippenham is the central market. The fall in the price of cheese which has taken place within the last few years, and increased railway facilities, bave induced an extensive sale of milk to London ; and more recently these butter factories have been establisbed. I know one parish in Wilts of 3,000 acres where forty years ago all the farmers were cheese makers, and I was told the other day that no cheese is now made there. The milk all goes to London or to the butter factory.
I proceed to consider the effects of the change.
Under the old system, whether of cheese or butter making, the expense was small, the man assisted at the milking and the cheese and butter were made by his wife and daughters, assisted in some cases by a dairymaid.
The goods were marketed; or the factors, well knowing where the best goods were made, came round and made their bargains at the farmhouse. The dairy work was hard, but the women of those days did not mind it. The old lines proved true.
“ Man to the plough.
Wife to the cow.
I fear a great change has taken place in this respect, and that higher education, with all its advantages, has in many cases induced the wife and daughters to forego the drudgery of dairy work and that good hired dairy maids are scarcer. This has, no donbt, led to the establishment of butter factories.
Under the modern system an extra horse and man, and sometimes two, must be kept to convey the milk to the railway station or the factory.
There is no doubt that milk selling yields a higher price per gallon than cheese or butter making; but then everything goes off the farm ; there is no whey, butter milk, or skim milk left to feed pigs, and thus to make manure; and unless a good deal of artificial food is purchased, the land must be impoverished. I fear this process is in too many cases silently going on, and that the value of grass land is depreciating.
When the milk goes to the factory it is clear that unless the farmer can get as much per gallon for his milk as he can net by making butter at home, he will be a loser, unless the factory is worked on the co-operative principle.
Let us test the facts.
I find that the price paid for milk last year at some factories varied from 8d. per gallon during the winter months to 4 d. or 5d. in the summer and that the average price was 5 d. per gallon. Assuming that with a separator a farmer required 24 gallons of milk to make a lb. of butter, this price, deducting a 1d. per gallon for delivery, or 4 d. net, would be equal to 11fd. per lb. of butter, which is below the average price of the
Then the question arises, what becomes of the skim-milk and butter-milk? I learn from a letter received whilst I write, that at one butter factory these products are sold to bakers and confectioners, or sometimes taken back to the farm. I conclude that the price paid per gallon for milk included the butter-milk and skim-milk, so that there is nothing to add for the value for feeding pigs.
Wbilst I write, I learn that one butter factory that has come under my notice was built by the landlord for his tenants, who were the shareholders, and that this Co-operative Company earned a very satisfactory dividend last year. Taking this as a test, I conclude that the co-operative system is capable of making a profit, wbich goes into the pockets of the farnier shareholders. This profit is no doubt earned by turning out an increased quantity, per gallon of milk, of butter of an uniformly good quality, commanding the top wholesale market price, conveyed in large quantities at somewhat lower railway rates than would be paid by individual farmers for small quantities, sold to the wholesale dealer at a smaller margin of profit, and perhaps in some cases sold direct to the retail shopkeeper. I have no means at my command of going further into detail, but I think I have said enough to show that the subject is well worth the attention of the English dairy farmer, in order to place him in a position to hold his own against foreign competition in butter.
I say nothing about the application of the co-operative system to cheese-making. English cheese can hold its own against foreign, so far as quality is concerned, but has for some years suffered severely in price