General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

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Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:16 pm

A bit more email ping pong with the EA over the last two weeks. Bit of a lag while the officer consults 'legal' each time.

They seem to be saying they will only grant me a permit for discharge on condition I accept the responsibility to upgrade the tank at the end of the year.

I've said that this is obviously not what I wanted. I wanted to make the neighbours who use it responsible for sorting it out.

I've said that 'legal' seem to be saying that unless everyone involved in a multi user system voluntarily accepts responsibility then they cannot hold any one or group of individuals within the system responsible? If so, how will they ever enforce the new legislation on multi user systems?

Left them to think about that...

Paddock

Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:31 pm

The final part of this chapter of the saga is that the EA decided that this cannot be dealt with via their permit process.

They suggested my course of action, (if the neighbours do not do anything in the meantime), is to report it to the EA incident department on 1st January 2020. On that date the discharge of untreated domestic sewage to the environment becomes a criminal offence.

The incident department will then roll forward with it using their normal policies and processes for dealing with illegal environmental things.

So, back to sleep for 6 months!

Paddock

Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:38 pm

Sent the neighbours a 3 month warning / reminder email along the lines 'surprised I haven't heard from you, will be involving the EA directly in 3 months time'. No response ...

Copying everything to my solicitor now as it looks like this will be done the hard way eventually.

Paddock.

Hugh Jaleak
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Hugh Jaleak » Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:06 pm

I cannot see how you could be held anyway responsible for this septic tank. It is merely located on/under your property, you are neither jointly or separately an 'operator' as the EA require, so I would just sit back now and let the EA and your Neighbours argue it out next year.

My main concern right now would be checking what, if any right the neighbours have under any easement or deed, to upgrade the existing or install any new tank/treatment plant within your curtilage. If the existing tank is no longer fit for purpose and a new system is required, the neighbours need to be putting it on their own property!

Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Sat Oct 26, 2019 5:38 pm

There was an update to the GBR published yesterday.

It looks like it has been revised to make it clear everyone needs to do something. The update title says;

25 October 2019
We’ve updated this guide. Your discharge must not cause pollution. If you have a septic tank that discharges directly to a watercourse you need to take action as soon as possible to make sure you meet requirements.


For the first time it talks about enforcement action being taken if there is non compliance. EG in the introductory section it now says ;

If your discharge causes pollution you may be committing an offence. The Environment Agency will give you advice to help you fix the problem. If your discharge continues to cause pollution the Environment Agency may take enforcement action against you.

The link to the updated GBR is here ;

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/general-bin ... face-water

Paddock

Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:01 pm

I noticed something else about the latest update. It no longer says you have to do anything by 1st January 2020. It now says you must do something 'as soon as possible' and 'you must have a plan in place to do something within 12 months'

So not sure if the deadline has been moved forward to now or moved back to 25th October 2020!

The EA guidance losing the 1st Jan 2002 date It might be because Tank companies are now inundated with enquiries and cannot meet the original deadlines, or they realise people are doing nothing until they are forced to, or both?

Anyway, on the basis the neighbours have done nothing and have no plan to do anything within 12 months I have decided not to wait until 1st Jan 2020 to report the matter to the EA incident department. Have done it now and let them tell me when the appropriate date is!

Will see what happens ...

Paddock

Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Fri Jan 03, 2020 4:16 pm

Well nothing happened!

I have phoned the EA and they do have my incident number and someone should be getting back to me.

In the meantime there have been a lot of blogs, newsletters etc from various interested parties. See the attached from the Country Landowners Association and page six of this link that is too big to attach. https://www.clarkewillmott.com/news/fie ... tmas-2019/

It deals with what you have to do legally if your tank is on someone else land.

Will update as and when...

Happy New Year

Paddock
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ukmicky
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by ukmicky » Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:48 pm

And you article tells you what I’ve told you, you are not an operator .

As you are not an operator you need do nothing. So forget about it and enjoy life.
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Sat Jan 04, 2020 4:54 pm

ukmicky wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:48 pm
And you article tells you what I’ve told you, you are not an operator .

As you are not an operator you need do nothing. So forget about it and enjoy life.
Thanks for your concern ukmickey. I do enjoy life. :D

My motivation for resolving this unequivocally as soon as possible is that I will probably want to sell my house in a few years time. If potential buyers are put off if this is unresolved then this will cause a crisis in my personal life at that point.

Therefore, I want the relevant bodies to take action long before it comes to that.

Paddock

Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:38 pm

Looks like other people are beginning to run into problems about this topic .....

https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/sh ... ght=septic

Paddock

Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:44 am

A short update to this is the EA told me about a month ago they had written to the neighbours telling them they need to upgrade their systems. No contact from the neighbours as yet. I will chase up the EA at regular intervals!

Meanwhile, questions are being asked in parliament about this topic! https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?i ... .h&s=waste

Paddock

Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Sun Jun 07, 2020 3:57 pm

Well, lockdown happened just after my last post so nothing has happened. However, I did stumble upon the fact that the Law Society has now updated its property information form and guidance notes in respect of septic tanks. Section 12.5 - 12.10. The guidance notes are quite comprehensive and confirm my view that ANY septic tank that is not treating its outflow became illegal on 1st January 2020. The three options to make it legal are Connect to mains sewers if possible, install a new drainage/infiltration system down hill of the tank (assuming sufficient area exists) or install a modern sewage treatment system.

I have sent this to my neighbours solicitor. Their tactic so far has been to plead ignorance and say nothing is clear. I wonder if the solicitor will ignore the opinion of his own professional body!?

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/news/stor ... published/#

Also, it would now look like more and more property transactions will be grinding to a halt while old septic tank issues are sorted out now that the new version of the property information form highlights the issue specifically and in detail.

Paddock

Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Sat Jul 04, 2020 5:25 pm

After throwing my toys out of the pram with the EA and threatening to make a formal complaint about non communication the EA phoned me back yesterday.

The same person I last spoke to at the end of January. Apologised profusely and said due to working at home due to lockdown none of my recent phone messages and emails had reached her.

She then confirmed letters were sent to the neighbours at the end of January. She knew at least one had been received as one of the neighbours had rang her to discuss its contents. She didnt go into detail about the discussion but seemed very surprised when I told her the neighbours had still done nothing and were now totally ignoring me.

We then discussed how this would move into enforcement and immediately hit a number of problems.

They obviously saw this issue as very low priority and even in the best of times would probably take forever to do anything. As they were all now working from home and making very few physical inspections it was even more difficult. that was expected to last another 6 months. She also said that the latest revision to the GBR that said you needed to do something in 12 months made it unclear to the enforcement team when enforcement could even begin. Was it 12 months since the GBR was amended to say that in October 2019 so October 2020? Or 12 months from when the tanks became illegal on 1/1/20 so 1/1/21? Or 12 months from when someone looked at it on a sort of tomorrow never comes basis? I said it was their law so they better figure out when to enforce it. She then indicated that they had been given a steer not to enforce it anyway in case it further disadvantaged people who couldn't afford it in current circumstances. I said that didn't apply to my neighbours and it seemed a dangerous precedent to set that compliance with the law depended on your financial circumstances.

She then agreed to email me a letter outlining all this.

It was only after the conversation that it dawned on me that I could send her a personal video tour of the tank and its situation from my mobile. She can then at least confirm its illegality remotely which gives me some ammunition to get the neighbours to do something.

So, for the moment, thats where it all stands again.

Paddock

ukmicky
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by ukmicky » Sat Jul 04, 2020 6:58 pm

Just out of interest why does it bother you as no enforcement action can be taken out against you . If your hoping it will mean they will no longer be able to use your land you would be mistaken .
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

Paddock
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Re: General binding rules: GBR small sewage discharge to a surface water

Post by Paddock » Sat Jul 04, 2020 8:22 pm

It doesn't bother me If they wont take out enforcement action against me or the neighbours. It would just be helpful if they did take enforcement action against the neighbours. However, if all the EA does is declare the tank illegal then I can decommission it.

If the neighbours want to enter a new agreement with me to put legal drainage through our land then I cannot unreasonably refuse. But it would be with a new negotiated fair agreement. I have a solicitor who specialises in this standing by to negotiate such an agreement for me.

Then, when we come to sell our house, I can advise any potential buyers that it is all sorted on a proper legal footing.

Paddock

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