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Sewage disposal guidance adopted

06 June 2012

The Minister for Planning and Environment, Deputy Rob Duhamel, has now adopted planning guidance which will help ensure that domestic sewage from new developments does not pollute the environment or give rise to public health problems.

This guidance will be a material planning consideration when determining relevant planning applications.

Consultation exercise

The adoption follows a consultation exercise with the public and key stakeholders, who raised a number of issues. Deputy Duhamel said “I have carefully considered all the points raised during the consultation process and I would like to use this opportunity to thank all those who have taken the trouble to make their views known”.

Island Plan policy

The new planning guidance on sewage treatment and disposal for new developments is a requirement of the Island Plan, which was agreed by the States in June 2011. In line with Island Plan policy, the guidance expects new developments to be connected to the public foul sewer where it is reasonable to do so. This is because the public foul sewer is part of a purpose built, closely monitored sewage treatment system and connection will avoid the additional environmental risks associated with private sewerage systems.

Private sewerage systems

Private sewerage systems depend on proper operation and regular maintenance to function effectively. If this does not happen the plants are prone to failure, causing pollution of land and watercourses, as well as potential nuisance and risk to human health. The guidance highlights the importance of avoiding a proliferation of private systems and of ensuring that any which are approved will not give rise to unacceptable environmental risk.

It is recognised that the public foul sewage system does not cover the whole Island and connection to it might not be feasible for some developments. There may be some exceptional circumstances, therefore, where developments are permitted which connect to private sewerage systems. In such cases, there is a policy preference for the use of package treatment plants, which provide high levels of biological sewage treatment.

Where this would be unreasonable, there are also options to consider the use of tight tanks (cesspools) and suitably improved existing septic tanks for appropriate small-scale developments.

Deputy Duhamel said “Land use planning is important in reducing the risk of pollution to the Island’s water environment from new developments.

“It is important to have effective policies, practices and procedures to ensure that the problems associated with non-mains sewerage are not perpetuated in any future developments. The challenge for developers and designers is to pay careful attention to the suitability of any proposals for sewerage treatment at the project design stage, so this can be clearly demonstrated and properly assessed as part of the planning application.”

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