17 October 2019

In 2015, Defra introduced new rules that were aimed at simplifying the regulation of septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants in England. These are called the “General Binding Rules”.

The principal change and the final bit of the General Binding Rules to come into force is that septic tanks may no longer discharge directly to a surface water course as of 1 January 2020. Where owners have a non-compliant septic tank, there are three remedies. The easiest where possible is to connect to mains sewer. Where this is not feasible, the cheapest solution is likely to be to install a drainage field, also known as an infiltration system. Lastly you can replace the septic tank with a small sewage treatment plant.

The Environment Agency has indicated that it does not propose to police this in a heavy handed manner other than in cases where there is an incident of pollution. Nonetheless members should take steps to start compliance. The real issue is likely to arise on sale as any solicitors acting for purchasers will ask detailed questions in respect of sewage disposal and a non-compliant system will probably give rise to a demand for a drop in the agreed price and/or a delay to the sale.

The CLA has produced guidance that can be found here.

If members require further advice, contact the regional office on 01785 337010

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