Advice for local authorities on non-mains drainage from non-major development

Purpose of the guidance

In April 2015 the Development Management Procedure Order (DMPO) Schedule 4 was changed so the Environment Agency is no longer a statutory consultee for non-major development proposing non-mains drainage. This change means it is the local planning authority's (LPA's) responsibility to ensure proposals for non-mains drainage for non-major development complies with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) without Environment Agency advice. This advice has been provided to help LPAs do this and it is the LPAs choice if they want to use this guidance. This advice can also be used by LPAs for major developments where the Environment Agency locally no longer provides bespoke comments. 

Who will benefit from this guidance?

This guidance is principally to help LPAs determine planning applications proposing to rely on non-mains foul drainage systems. This guidance will be most useful in those areas with high levels of growth and environmentally sensitive receptors such as environmental designations for water bodies (e.g. Special Areas of Conservation). This combination of circumstances is likely to mean that there will be a relatively high number of non-mains drainage proposals that could affect sensitive environmental receptors in the water environment.  

Planning decision making and foul drainage

To comply with the NPPF and PPG on foul drainage matters an LPA needs to be satisfied that foul drainage can be provided without adverse impact on the environment. This requires ensuring that both those environmental risks outside of the control of the permit and the relevant considerations in the PPG are addressed. The LPA should also be mindful that the developer will need to address foul drainage matters to get their environmental permit and meet building control regulations. Therefore, they should be confident that it is likely that any necessary permits and approvals can be successfully obtained.


We welcome feedback on this document. Please send it to Caroline Sutton.

Any queries related to site specific permitting issues should be sent to the Environment Agency National Customer Contact Centre (

Read the Environment Agency guidance