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

A New Deal for Renting

The CLA has responded to the Government consultation: "A New Deal for Renting - Resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants" which proposes the abolition of section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and Assured Shorthold Tenancies.

We have argued strongly against these proposals, given multiple reasons why they would not work in practice and highlighted the serious unforeseen consequences of pursuing such a policy.

In order to be constructive, if reforms are to be made, we have suggested alternative approaches that we believe would work in practice and be fairer to landlords and tenants.

We have emphasised the vital importance of flexibility when it comes to providing accommodation for emmployees and argued in the strongest terms that the efficiency of the rural economy and the very sustainability of rural communities will be adversely affected by these proposals.

We are very grateful to the many members who shared their thoughts and views with us and to those who have responded individually to this consultation.  Whilst the consultation deadline has now passed, the fight carries on and we would still encourage members to lobby their MPs on this issue so that the voice of rural landlords continues to be heard.

Flooding and Coastal Erosion

The CLA has responded to Defra's Call for Evidence on key flood and coastal issues to help develop a flood and coastal erosion and national infrastructure strategy.  Our evidence outlined the importance of resilience to flood and coastal erosion for farmers and landowners, as in farming the speed of recovery is often slow due to the production cycle, and costs can be very high.  Farmers and landowners have long dealt with changeable weather events and are able to cope well, however, their resilience is dependent on good drainage, well-maintained flood defences and a strong strategic vision from Defra and the Environment Agency.

Agricultural Tenancies

The CLA responded to the consultations undertaken by DEFRA and the Welsh Government on agricultural tenancy legislation reform.  Both Governments produced very similar consultations suggesting changes which could remove barriers to productivity improvements and facilitate structural change in the tenant farming sector.  Some suggestions were welcomed but others opposed.  In particular, the CLA made it clear that no steps should be taken to prolong the lifetime of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986.


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