Briefing Note: Consultation on reform of the regulatory system to control small sewage discharges

This consultation proposes a new simpler 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 to:

  • simplify existing regulation within less sensitive areas (which cover most of the country) by removing the need for households and businesses to register their septic tank and record keeping requirements, while maintaining and focussing effort on preventing pollution.
  • 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.  This means a reduction in the number of designated sensitive areas.

The proposals would remove administrative burdens on over 40,000 people with rural properties not connected to the main sewerage network, whilst keeping the necessary controls to prevent pollution, protect public health, improve drinking water supplies, and protect sensitive habitats. Implementing the new approach would involve amendment of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.

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