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Septic tanks

On 1 January 2020 new legislation regarding septic tanks will come into force.

The new rules which were introduced in 2015 are designed to stop the practice of septic tanks discharging directly into local watercourses such as streams or rivers. The rules apply to existing treatment systems (in use before 31 December 2014) and new ones (in use after 31 December 2014) meaning that property owners with septic tanks may need to upgrade them by 1 January 2020.

The new rules are designed to prevent the pollution of local watercourses. Property owners could replace their septic tanks with a sewage treatment plant which will treat the waste before it is released into any watercourse. Other options include a drainage field, soak away, or arranging for the property to be connected to the mains sewer.

Property owners that install a sewage treatment plant will need to obtain building regulations approval and may also need to apply for planning permission. The treatment system must also meet the relevant British Standard in force at the time of installation and be installed properly and have enough capacity. Of course, the system will also need to be regularly emptied and maintained to the manufacturers instructions.

Where a property is being sold or purchased and needs a new system, the parties will need to discuss who is to be responsible for this change and make that agreement a condition of the sale. If a new system is installed any new owner should be advised of this and details of the system provided.

The rules will be enforced by the Environmental Agency and for those that have not complied or fear that they may need to, advice should be sought from an accredited water or waste management engineer.



The contents of this blog post is not legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. If legal advice is needed readers should contact a solicitor. No responsibility for any information contained within this post is accepted and PainSmith solicitors accepts no liability in respect of the contents or for action taken based on this post.

Published 10 December 2019

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