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Water Act 2003

403. .Sections 88 and 89: Trade effluent consents.

The discharge of trade effluent into public sewers is regulated under the WIA. An occupier of trade premises requires a trade effluent consent before he may discharge trade effluent into the public sewer. He must therefore apply to his sewerage undertaker (water and sewerage company) who will consider the application and issue a trade effluent consent if they are content to do so. Trade effluent consents specify what may be discharged to sewer and contain conditions which the discharger must meet to comply with his consent.

404.From time to time confusion arises as to whether discharges arising from particular types of activity are required to be regulated under the trade effluent consenting regime. Often these discharges are small in volume, but a large quantity of such discharges could potentially be harmful to the environment. Sometimes it has proved difficult for sewerage undertakers to decide whether a discharge constitutes “trade effluent” and this has led to inconsistency within the consenting regime.

405.Where this has occurred in the past, the problem has been overcome by amending the primary legislation in order to make it clear that effluent emanating from a specified trade required a trade effluent consent. However, this process whilst dealing with the immediate problem has not proved to be a satisfactory long term answer to this problem and remains a somewhat inflexible approach to take.

406.A power is provided to the Secretary of State to make it clear by statutory instrument whether discharges of any given liquid or matter (whether or not constituting trade effluent) to the public sewer are or are not required to be carried on in accordance with the conditions of a trade effluent consent.

407.The Secretary of State has the power (in effect) to modify the meaning of `trade effluent’ and `trade premises’ for the purposes of the trade effluent consenting regime in the WIA. By using this power, the Secretary of State will be able to narrow or widen the scope of these expressions and in turn, make it clear whether discharges from particular processes, substances or types of activity to the public sewer are subject to the consenting regime.

408.The overall effect of these sections is intended to result in better regulation of the trade effluent discharge process by bringing under control the discharge of small volumes of potentially harmful substances to the water environment.

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