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Planning guidance on sewage issued

08 February 2012

New draft guidance has been issued for consultation which will help to ensure that domestic sewage from new developments does not pollute the environment or cause public health problems.

The supplementary planning guidance (SPG) on sewage treatment and disposal has been drawn up by the Department of the Environment and is required under the new Island Plan, which was agreed by the States in June 2011. There is an assumption that the first option for developers is to connect to the public foul sewer, so that domestic sewage is dealt with as part of a purpose built and closely monitored sewage treatment system. However, there are areas of the Island where connecting to the public foul sewer is not possible or impractical and therefore circumstances exist where it is appropriate to permit connection to a private non-mains sewerage system.

The planning guidance has been drafted to help ensure that the best treatment and disposal of sewage is undertaken under all circumstances. When connection to the public foul sewer is not possible, there is a policy preference for the use of package treatment plants, which provide high levels of biological sewage treatment. Where necessary, there are also options to consider the use of tight tanks (cesspools) and suitably improved existing septic tanks and soakaways for small-scale developments.

The Minister for Planning and Environment, Deputy Rob Duhamel, said “It is important to ensure adequate protection for the Island’s water resources, and this guidance will help to do this. The draft guidance has been prepared to reflect the existing strategic policy direction for the treatment and disposal of foul sewage, set out in the 2011 Island Plan. The consultation also offers us the opportunity to open constructive debate on the future of the foul sewage system and to gather Islander’s views and experience of alternative systems of disposing of domestic sewage.”

The draft guidance sets out to explain in more detail the Island Plan policy on domestic sewage (Policy LWM2) and how it will be operated, interpreted and applied in decision making. It also outlines the information that will be required in support of relevant planning applications, whether they propose connection to the public foul sewer or to a private sewerage system. 

Where it is proposed to discharge domestic sewage to a private system, the draft guidance requires the applicant to submit a detailed ‘Foul Sewer Assessment’ (FSA).  The assessment must demonstrate that the possibility of connection to the public sewer has been properly investigated and found to be either impracticable or not reasonably cost effective.  In addition, it must provide sufficient information to assess the suitability of the proposed system.
The draft guidance can be found online and will be available for consultation until 21 March 2012. At the end of this period, the draft guidance will be reviewed and amended in the light of the comments received, prior to formal adoption.

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