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What a stink! New septic tank rules set to upset rural sales

Upgrading the tanks can be costly and failure to react could cost even more when buyers lower their offers or walk away from a purchase.

Sheila Manchester

Any estate agent operating in rural areas will be aware of the joys of septic tanks, cess pits and sewage treatment tanks – because discovering that they are not correctly sited, not properly maintained or have leakage issues can be a deal killer.

Many systems are properly maintained, others are old, rural and rusting and disgusting. Now, says the law, it’s time they are rather more fragrant and efficient.

The General Binding Rules for small sewage discharges (SSDs) have been put in place to protect England’s surface water resources (e.g. rivers, streams etc.) from pollution caused by septic tanks and other small-scale sewage treatment plants.

Under the new regulations, it is no longer permissible to discharge low quality effluent from septic tanks directly into ditches, streams or other watercourses.

Instead, homeowners have the option of replacing or upgrading systems to incorporate a drainage field. This is also known as an infiltration system and means the effluent can seep into the ground instead for further treatment by soil bacteria.

Andrew Marshall, Regional Director of Hamptons International is clear: “The changing legislation cannot be ignored – the responsibility lies with owners to understand their private drainage system and any changes they need to make to comply.

“New rules came into effect in 2015, when 2020 felt like a long time away; now it is just weeks away. A number of homeowners across the country are looking at selling but have not acted on this new legislation, some are surprised by the work required. Ignoring it will not make it go away!  Irrespective of whether you are looking at selling or not, this is an issue that needs to be addressed to abide by the new regulations.”

Robert Franklin, Head of Architecture & Building Surveying at Robinson & Hall, Land and Property Professionals, says, “Anyone who owns a property which is not connected to a mains drainage system, please ask yourself:

  • Do you know the difference between a septic tank, cess pit and sewage treatment plant?
  • If you own a septic tank, do you know where it discharges?

Septic tanks are very common in rural properties and most homeowners find them a relatively easy solution to the problem of dealing with wastewater and sewage where no mains drainage is available.

More info:

Robert Franklin, Head of Architecture & Building Surveying : [email protected]
Andrew Marshall, Regional Director of Hamptons International: [email protected]


October 29, 2019

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