CLA demands review of rules for septic tank owners

22 October 2013

The CLA today (16 August) called for the Government and the Environment Agency to review the rules preventing thousands of householders in rural areas from making small sewage discharges from septic tanks.

The Association confirmed a high proportion of rural householders have not received any notification from the Environment Agency about the new requirement to register private septic tanks for an exemption or obtain  an environmental permit for sewage discharge.

CLA President William Worsley said: "Defra and the Environment Agency have not communicated the changes effectively to householders. We have received a number of complaints from concerned members who are unsure what the new requirements are and what they have to do to abide by the law.

"The CLA has been in discussion with Defra to seek reassurance that those with septic tanks will not be treated heavy-handedly by the Environment Agency where they have not been made aware of the changes. There have even been difficulties with online applications through the Environment Agency website, so those who have tried to comply now face the prospect of a disproportionate fine through no fault of their own."

Mr Worsley said that as well as calling for a review, he has asked Defra for an immediate extension to the registration process.

He said: "These changes have been presented as a straightforward registration process to gain an exemption, but thousands of households could be required to instal a sealed tank or new system costing up to £15,000.

"Defra needs to give serious consideration to the removal of the bureaucratic gold-plating that seem to criminalise the most vulnerable in rural communities."

The CLA has also written to the Environment Agency to outline its concerns and suggest a way forward.