Codford villagers are facing bills of thousands of pounds to replace two sewage treatment works run by Selwood Housing.

Residents on The Grove say they cannot afford to pay the £5,886 per home within a year, as demanded by the housing association.

In nearby Cherry Orchard house-owners face bills of £2,640 for their plant to be brought up to Environment Agency standards.

Selwood tenants are not being charged for the work, expected to cost £306,000 for both sites.

The Grove resident Jamie Hunt said: “We just haven’t got the money to pay this, no-one here has, we can’t pay what we don’t have.

“We have been paying £50 a month for years now for maintenance, where has all that money been going if the plant isn’t working?”

Neighbour Sally Otterwell said: “We wouldn’t be living here if we had that kind of money lying around, and would not be spending it on a sewage works.”

Patricia Saunders added: “The instalments they are asking for are ridiculous, more than some people are paying for their mortgage.

“I think Selwood are indirectly trying to put pressure on Wessex Water to take over the costs of the plant.”

The residents are required to contribute to the costs through conditions imposed when they bought their houses, and Selwood claims it has given them regular notice since 2009, when the plant in The Grove failed, that the treatment works would need replacing. Since 2009 The Grove plant has not been in full use and waste has been collected and taken off-site in a tanker for disposal.

A spokesman for the association said the monthly £50 sewage bills residents have been paying have contributed to the cost of ongoing maintenance, costs which are higher than normal as Selwood runs only a few plants which are coming to the end of their lives.

She added: “We know that this is a large amount of money to pay, we are being as flexible as we can with when people pay and we have given people a lot of notice that the work was coming.

“As a charity, we have a duty to ensure that we get the best value for money for our tenants’ rents and while we sympathise with the homeowners, our focus is providing homes for people who can’t afford to buy a home or even to rent one in the private sector.”

She added that while they were hoping residents would contact Selwood if they couldn’t pay to reach a compromise, they would consider legal action if necessary.

The same situation is likely to become an issue in other nearby Wylye Valley villages soon as similar sewage treatment plants serving small estates where homes are both privately owned and belong to the housing association plants need replacement.