The long running saga of septic tank registration with the authorities is finally, I hope, coming to some form of conclusion.
You may remember way back in 2011 a great deal of fuss was made about the registration of the tanks and small sewerage treatment plants.
Everyone who owned one of these systems was told they must register their exact location with the Government.
In rural areas, where many do own a septic tank, this was all very controversial and fostered the notion that a future ‘sewerage tax’ could be imposed on septic tank owners as well as threatened fees for the registration process itself.
After quite some vocal opposition, the Government looked closely at what was being proposed and agreed that a lighter touch regime for registration was needed. The scheme was then suspended pending a review by the Environment Agency.
Now almost two years on, this review has finally finished and its conclusions make for pretty good news subject to a final say so.
My problem was always with a registration regime which meant that every tank, regardless of location, would need to be registered. I am pleased to say that the new proposals acknowledge this concern and recommend that systems in less sensitive areas will not have to be registered at all.
The type of sites which are deemed to be in the ‘sensitive’ category will also be greatly reduced. This will allow a focus on drinking water abstraction, rather than including ancient monuments or woodland which seemed a little over bureaucratic.
The consequence of these changes will be that the vast majority of septic tank owners will not have to do anything more than to maintain their tanks as they do now.
This seems to strike the right balance between protecting the environment and minimising the burden on the owners of treatment plants.
But there is still some form of registration process and a permitting system will remain in the most sensitive areas because there is no doubt that poorly maintained sewerage treatment plants are health hazards which contribute to the pollution of local water bodies and private water supplies.
It’s vital that the authorities know the exact location of any system which is likely to impact on drinking water if it were to leak and this seems perfectly reasonable to me. A public consultation is planned for the proposals later in the year. I will happily notify any interested party when it is open for submissions.
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