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

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

Post by ukmicky » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:34 pm

One ,in the case mentioned the easement wasn’t permanantly extinguished

Two , you have not had a statutory notice served on you

Three ,the apparatus you wish to decommission is not owned by you .

Four , by decommissioning it you will be damaging property not owed by you, whereas in the case you mentioned it only temporarily prevented a right from being exercised . It had nothing to do with interfering with property owned by others and all work was being performed to property owned by the person the notice was served on.

Five ,the system can only be condemned by the EA and it’s possible they could under the rules allow the continued operation of the system.

Six , you are not an operator of the equipment . The neighbours are the operators as they have a documented easement allowing it to be on your land and are legally responsible for its maintenance . Providing the EA are aware of the situation they should serve any notice on them and no statutory notice should be served onto you. If one was served on you before you acted you would need to check out the legality of the notice as it may have been incorrectly served as the EA may not have all the information. The easy way to check how uptodate there information was would be to ask if it was served also on your neighbours


You need to ask the EA to visit your property. You need to inform them you are not an operator of the equipment . You do not use it , do not own the equipment and legally have no rights to interfere with the equipment and need them to serve a notice on the neighbours if the system falls foul of the law.

To obtain a court order I assume I would need to go to court, demonstrate the law, then say 'look, the users have done nothing about this despite me giving them a years notice and the EA giving all of us 5 years notice' ?
Thinking about it tHis equipment is not yours so how can you demonstrate it is not fit for purpose.How can you demonstrate that it would not be possible for your neighbours to gain permission from the EA to continue using it . It is possible under the right circumstances.

This is something you need to speak to the EA about .Ask for a site visit. Document All information you give them . Keep copies of any letters you send out. Make them understand the situation ,that may be hard however as many people in there position take a blanket approach and don’t listen .

Lastly in your circumstances I would not do anything that could leave their properties uninhabitable without something on paper sent to you personally from someone with the legal authority to order you , under the law to decommission the system withou5 the agreement of those that use the system . That way you are covered should you get sued.
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 » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:39 pm

Thanks again for the advice ukmickey

One thing though, you seem to have moved into thinking the tank is not owned by me. I always thought the tank was owned by me as it is part of the land I own? The neighbours have never claimed it is their tank, only they have the right to use it.

Anyway, I have decided a way forward is to apply for a discharge permit from the EA. The permit to commence from 1st Jan 2020. That should prompt a site visit as you suggest. Cost me £125 but I will ask the users to refund me :D !

I assume this permit will be refused and then I will get some sort of legal clarity and documentary evidence. I can forward this to the users in another attempt to persuade them to do something voluntarily. I might also be able to use it to support a court order to revoke their rights as you originally suggested.

Looks like I will go quiet for a few more months unless the EA responds more quickly than expected....

Paddock

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

Post by ukmicky » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:10 pm

Paddock wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:39 pm
Thanks again for the advice ukmickey

One thing though, you seem to have moved into thinking the tank is not owned by me. I always thought the tank was owned by me as it is part of the land I own? The neighbours have never claimed it is their tank, only they have the right to use it.


Paddock
in your very first post you said
, We have wound up with a neighbours Septic tank in the far end of our garden.
It being on your land does not mean it is yours . The law does not make that assumption as an easement right can not only allow your neighbours to use your land by piping there waste to the septic tank but also place on your land equipment owned by them. There are many people who own septic tanks on land owned by others. What is the wording of their easements ,if they are documented.


It’s possible if your property used it in the past you own it and they had an easement allowing their use.

It’s also possible if your property in the past used it alongside the other properties you had an equal share in its ownership.

But it is also possible your neighbours own it.

In the absence of anything documented it would be assumed it was owned by those who use it.

The important thing here however is not ownership , it’s the easement right . In your circumstances I would probably be happy to say it’s not mine as ownership would only confuse the EA as to who is responsible for it .
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 » Thu Apr 18, 2019 4:56 pm

Hi ukmickey,

I see. Bit careless with my language in the first place. I just meant the neighbours use it. But I can see your point about who does really own it?

I'm not sure there is anything properly documented surviving . As far as I can tell the neighbouring properties were split off from the bit I eventually ended up owning in the 1970's and the Land Registry deeds/titles don't say anything specific about the tank but they do refer to other things agreed at the time between the buyer and seller. The neighbour has never referred to anything that clearly states their rights or ownership. I'm sure they would have by now if they were aware of it.

We moved in the year 2002, Our initial neighbour had only been next door a few years before that. Then the new ones bought it from them in 2003.

My property never used it as it was a farm barn back then. On the other hand, everything was owned by the same owner of the original farm prior to 1970 ish so the split could assume I equally own the tank with the others. I doubt anyone thought to properly clarify it in 1970. It would have been a damn sight easier if they had just included the strip with the tank in the neighbours property!

Their electric and phone lines come from poles that are actually on my bit, but that is quite common in rural areas I guess. I get about £25 a year (wow) from the Electricity people to have a small pole mounted transformer in the corner, the other end (uphill) of the Tank.

If I ever get to the point of having to ask my solicitor to investigate all the old deeds etc the tank ownership may get clarified.

Regards

Paddock

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

Post by pilman » Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:54 pm

It would have been a damn sight easier if they had just included the strip with the tank in the neighbours property!
That statement implies that your property would not suffer unduly if that area of land where the tank is located was transferred to another person.

A limited company is a legal person and a company can now be incorporated using an internet agent for a fee of less than £20.

Issuing shares with a value of £1 per share to a named individual who will be the sole director of the company would mean that this is the limit of the assets owned by the company.

Using the money received from the issued shares means it can buy the land from you and spend £40 on the land registration fee required to register the land with a new title that will show the limited company as its owner. Downloading a TP1 and an AP1 form from the Land Registry web-site is free of charge and after completing the forms required by Land Registry the company can afford to pay for the envelope and stamp so that the application is made to Land Registry who will have to register the land with a new title. With a value of less than £6,000 an application does not require confirmation of identity forms to be provided with the application, so as long as the sole director is capable of completing the forms and signing a cheque there are no other costs involved.

Any future problems with the EA will be addressed to the registered address of the limited company, who could ignore all communications.

Each year a fee of £13 is required to complete the Confirmation Statement for Companies House to retain in existence the dormant company that owns the land.

Since there are other people who actually use this old septic tank the EA will also need to deal directly with them as well as with the limited company.

If the limited company failed to provide an annual Confirmation Statement to Companies House then the company will be struck off the register and the company's land would then be considered to be Bona Vacantia and ownership would vest in the Crown.

Letting the Companies Act and the Land Registration Act work in your favour is the most cost effective way forward, especially as the cost of a single hour of legal fees is now in excess of £300 in most parts of the country.

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

Post by pilman » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:09 pm

Just gave a bit more thought to the above posting and decided that once the company became legal owner of the land, you could agree to rent the land for an annual cost of £13, which would be the same amount needed to retain the company in existence with a clause in the rental agreement that this can be terminated at any time with one months notice given by the company.

That way you can continue to use the top soil of the land as part of your garden without having any responsibility for what lays beneath the surface.

Should you decide to sell your property in the future the same arrangement can be continued if both titles are sold to the person interested in becoming the new owner of both.
Since I think this will be a win-win situation for the OP, it will be interesting to see if others can spot any flaws with this suggestion.

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

Post by mugwump » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:31 pm

pilman wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:09 pm
Just gave a bit more thought to the above posting and decided that once the company became legal owner of the land, you could agree to rent the land for an annual cost of £13, which would be the same amount needed to retain the company in existence with a clause in the rental agreement that this can be terminated at any time with one months notice given by the company.
Surely doing that would mean that the company could not be dormant and therefore liable to annual returns etc?

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

Post by pilman » Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:13 pm

Hi Mugwump, that is not something I gave any thought to, so probably best that the new company owner asks the last owner to look after the land for him by maintaining the land in a weed free condition.

No rent, just an informal arrangement so that the company can remain dormant.

If the initial share issue raised £100 and the price paid for the land was £5, that would leave a balance of £95 to pay the land registration fee of £40 and enough to pay the annual companies house fee of £13 for 4 years while the company remained dormant.

That will allow enough time to have the current problem dealt with, so that within 4 years a further transfer back to the original owner will require another £40 registration fee to be paid by the OP.

Still better than legal fees, methinks.

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

Post by mugwump » Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:00 pm

That will work providing you can find a bank account to hold the money that makes no charges during that period.

Bank fees no matter how small are considered significant accounting transactions and would cause the company to lose dormant status.

The idea is good but needs to be done carefully

https://www.informdirect.co.uk/business ... uirements/

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

Post by Paddock » Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:33 pm

Thanks guys,

In one of my more fanciful moments I wondered if I could sell the land off to my own Cayman island registered company or anything!

I will proceed down the usual channels for the time being!

Paddock

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

Post by Paddock » Sun Apr 28, 2019 6:15 pm

I got an acknowledgement for my permit application from the EA.

Part of it said ' due to the unusually high volumes of applications we are currently receiving it may take up to 6 weeks to allocate your application to a permitting officer ...'

So looks like this is GBR thing may be coming to a head all over the country!

Paddock

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

Post by Paddock » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:51 pm

6 weeks gone and I got a phone call from the permitting officer.

We had a discussion about the application and his view was the same as all the others at the EA I spoke to. Domestic Sewage Tanks discharging with no treatment or ground infiltration systems will be illegal at the end of the year. He will probably grant an interim permit that says the discharge is legal now but the septic tank must be decommissioned by the end of the year. He went off to think about it and 'consult legal' ...

I await something in writing. In the meantime have advised the neighbours so to give them maximum time to do something.

As I thought, now the EA has been specifically informed of this location then we are all marching to their timescale.

Paddock

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

Post by Paddock » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:32 am

Another week and I get an email from the EA Permit officer. It does basically say what was discussed as reported in my previous post.

The tank is illegal at the end of the year and must be decommissioned.

It confirms in the eyes of the EA the users (neighbours) and Landowner (myself) are classed as 'operators' and are all legally equally responsible for the discharge.

It also says if the permit is granted in my name then I will be 'primarily' responsible in the eyes of the EA (Whatever that implies).

It then asks if I want the permit granted to me or not given these terms.

There was no response from the neighbours to my email of them a week ago. I have now forwarded the actual EA response to them and asked them directly to acknowledge receipt of the email and state their intentions.

If I get a permit with a condition to decommission the tank at the end of the year then that would effectively be a legal instruction to me from a legal authority to do something, wouldn't it?

I have forwarded the EA response to my solicitor and asked the same question before I reply to the EA.

Regards

Paddock

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

Post by FilthWizzard » Wed Jun 19, 2019 4:12 pm

This is all very interesting. I'm not sure EA have it right, but that's all you can reasonably go on.

So, the operators are responsible for the operation, but obviously cannot be assumed to be the owners. My understanding would be, then, that the operators can only be held responsible for the results of their operating the equipment. Not for its existence which would be down to the owner. I would think that responsibility for maintenance would also be down to the owner, but that the operator could be held responsible for operating equipment which has not been maintained appropriately.

Of course, only the owner could materially affect the equipment by physically removing it or by bringing it up to standard. All an operator can do is operate it, or cease to operate it.

If that logic holds true, your reasonable course of action would be to issue notice that you will be ceasing to operate the equipment as of a given date (with suitable time period). Upon that date, you deactivate the equipment and place a suitable notice on it informing all that it cannot be lawfully operated and so permission to operate has been suspended by the EA. Pass a copy of the EA documentation instructing such to the other operators. Make note on the notice of your contact details should anyone need to refer to the EA instruction.

If the other operators decide to reactivate the equipment illicitly, despite the sign and the provided letter from EA, without your knowledge, then you have still done all that can reasonably be expected of you to cease operation. I cannot imagine any prosecution could land at your feet as a result. You remain happy for your neighbors to operate the equipment in any lawful manner as advised by the appropriate regulatory body, so you are not in breach of the requirements on your title document.

Remember, it is only a septic tank if it meets the requirements to be used for that purpose. Once it does not meet the requirements to be a septic tank, it is no longer such. It is merely a metal box. The easement only gives your neighbors the right to store and use a septic tank on your property. Once it is no longer a septic tank, surely they have no rights to keep it there? One for the solicitor that, but would seem to be sound logic to me.

No title document clause or easement can oblige the property owner to carry out unlawful acts on their property. No court would uphold such, I am sure. They would get into a constant loop of cases if they did. The key is to get something in writing from the EA which instructs you that the tank is no longer lawful after a specific date and requiring operators to cease operating it, and confirming that you are one of said operators. Then you are only doing as instructed by the 'competent authority' and can direct all kick back to them.

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

Post by Janieb » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:41 pm

I wonder, sometimes, if the powers that be actually look at the results of their edicts. Their reasoning might be right but the reality on the ground may not be possible. About 15ish years ago the government decided that every household should be on a separate water meter so when my OH died and the property was put in my name I had a letter telling me that they were turning up to install a meter. I rang them and explained the situation that the water pipe served 5 houses and I wasn't prepared to be responsible for the cost of water for 5 households. They told me to put it in writing, which I did. About 2 weeks later I had 5 workmen at my door to install the meter. I said"Carry on". 10 mins later they were back to explain that they couldn't as the mains pipe served 5 household and why hadn't I told them. What a waste of time and money. I do now have a meter since I can now have an indoor smart meter.
"I prefer rogues to imbeciles, because they sometimes take a rest" Alexandre Dumas (fils)

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