The Environment Agency is responsible for the determination of disputes between applicants for first time sewerage and sewerage undertakers under s101A of the Water Industry Act 1991 (s101A).
Section 101A provides a framework within which to assess whether provision of a public sewer is appropriate in certain circumstances. These are:
- that the drainage of premises in a locality is giving rise, or is likely to give rise, to adverse effects on the environment or amenity
- that these actual or likely adverse effects are from more than one building (section 101A is not applicable where problems relate to only one building)
- that the drainage of those premises is for domestic sewerage purposes. Domestic sewerage purposes include the contents of lavatories, water used for cooking and similar domestic activities, but does not mean that the building concerned has to be residential
- that the relevant premises are not currently connected to a public sewer
Where these conditions are met, s101A provides for an assessment to be carried out by the relevant sewerage undertaker as to whether the provision of a public sewer is the appropriate solution to the identified adverse environmental and amenity effects. This assessment will take into account the comparative practicability and cost of alternative solutions, amongst other considerations.
Ministerial guidance published by Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government provides further guidance on how applications are to be assessed and the criteria to be considered.
Applications to sewerage undertakers for public sewers under s101A are usually made by local residents or the relevant local authority. The sewerage undertaker then carries out an assessment of the application and decides whether it believes a duty exists to provide a public sewer under s101A.
If the applicant is dissatisfied with the sewerage undertaker's decision they, or anyone within the area for which the sewerage undertaker is responsible, can raise a dispute with the Environment Agency.
The issues on which a dispute may be raised are:
- whether a public sewer should be provided
- the purposes for which a public sewer should be provided
- the time by which any public sewer should be provided where a sewerage undertaker has accepted that a duty exists
In order that the Environment Agency can determine disputes impartially, we separate our role in the provision of environmental information and any discussion of applications being assessed by the sewerage undertakers, from our determination of any subsequent disputes.
For more information on any aspect of s101A, please contact Will Tipper or Belinda Steward via the National Customer Contact Centre on 03708 506 506*.
*Details of call charges can be found on the GOV.UK website.