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Hampshire property blog - July 2011

don’t get septic tanked!

1 January 2012 will go down in history.  Not just as the first day of the Olympic year, but as 'Septic Tank Day'.

Whilst many will wake up feeling like the contents of a cess pit, property lawyers will know that the New Year heralds the coming into force of new laws requiring householders with a septic tank or sewage treatment plant to register it with the Environment Agency.

Under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, discharges to rivers and streams must be registered immediately.

Those discharging to the ground can be registered at any time prior to 1 January 2012.

If you already have a permit for the discharge then you do not need to register.

All you need is to continue to maintain the system properly.

If the Environment Agency (EA) does not accept the registration for any reason then it will suggest that you apply for a permit.  There is a fee payable for this as the agency has to undertake a risk assessment before it allows the discharge.  This need for a permit will normally apply if the discharge is close to a nature conservation area.

The EA will check this when the registration application is received – it is worth noting that the application for registration does not attract a fee and so in most cases the process will not cost the homeowner.

Cesspools, to give them their correct name, do not need to be registered as they are sealed units with no discharge into water or ground.  Put simply, if your system is one that needs emptying every few weeks, then it is probably a cesspool, and so no registration is required.

If you have a septic tank that discharges directly to surface water you will need to apply for a permit and the EA may require you to upgrade to a treatment plant.

Unfortunately as with many changes to the law, people are often unaware of their existence until they come to sell their home.

If they haven’t got an exemption or permit then this will delay any sale and there could be additional compliance costs.

Whilst most householders will be exempt, the key point is that they still need to register in order to gain that status.

For further information on the subject featured here, please contact our Residential Property helpdesk on residentialpropertyinfo@bllaw.co.uk.
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