Reform of regulatory system to control small sewage discharges from septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants in England
Small sewage discharges: A new approach to how we regulate these in England
We are proposing (a) a simpler regulatory framework for the whole of England, and (b) a further deregulatory measure to move to a more risk-based approach to permitting.
Our lives and livelihoods depend on a clean, healthy water environment. We are working to control and prevent pollution to protect people’s health and wellbeing, and the natural environment. This includes preventing contamination of drinking water supplies and pollution of the environment from septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants.
This consultation proposes a new approach to regulating domestic wastewater systems where the discharges are small for example systems serving individual or small groups of properties. Such discharges are known as small sewage discharges (SSDs). The aims of the proposals are, firstly to simplify existing regulation within less sensitive areas (which cover most of the country) by removing registration and record keeping requirements whilst keeping key requirements for preventing pollution, and secondly, to provide a more risk-based approach to permitting so that permits are only required in the most sensitive areas where a higher level of protection is needed.
The proposed approach would deliver the necessary controls to prevent pollution, protect public health, improve drinking water supplies and protect sensitive habitats, while:
- reducing burdens on rural households and businesses
- reducing the number of people who need to have permits
- reducing the number of pollution incidents from SSDs
- encouraging local responsibility
Why We Are Consulting
Implementing the new approach would involve amendment of legislation: the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 which are made under the Pollution, Prevention and Control Act 1999.
Responses to this consultation will inform decisions on changes to the regulation of septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants.
The consultation is principally being conducted as an online survey. If you prefer, you can also respond by email to SSDs_Reform or by writing to us at the address below.
Defra, Water Quality Admin Team, Area 3E, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 2RJ
What Happens Next
This consultation has now closed. We are considering the responses received. A summary of responses will be published, together with a government response.
If you have any questions, please email us SSDs_Reform
Defra Water Quality Team