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Will your septic tank still be legal in January?

With time running out for certain septic tank owners to make their septic tanks legally compliant, is this something that you need to consider now?

Legislation surrounding septic tanks

The current minimum standards against which septic tank systems are judged are known as the ‘General Binding Rules’. These rules deal with the type of system that is required, which is based on where sewage is discharged and the manner in which sewage can be discharged. They also provide circumstances in which permits are required for septic tanks to be operated, such as if the septic tank discharges to a well/borehole.

Also covered by the General Binding Rules are circumstances in which planning permissions and building regulations approvals may be required for a new system.

What is changing?

The General Binding Rules were introduced in 2015 and require certain septic tank owners, most notably septic tanks that discharge into a watercourse, to potentially replace or upgrade their system by 1 January 2020. This may require septic tanks to be replaced with a packaged treatment plant that will clean the water before said water is discharged. Alternatively, it may be that the existing system can be modified to ensure compliance.

Given that it is now less than five months until such septic tanks have to be remedied, it is worth finding out now whether any action is required. Owners are advised to consider the Government’s guidance here and to take steps at this stage to ensure compliance. It is especially worth doing so now rather than later if you are thinking of selling your property before the new rules come into effect, as failure to do so could lead to a sale becoming protracted.

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