Important News: Public Sewer Connections & Hertfordshire County Council

When a Local Authority or Water Authority makes changes to licensing, guidelines and legislation, it can have a massive effect on works, particularly if these changes come as an inconvenient surprise. This is why we’ve created this short guide to the Section 50 and Section 104 updates by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) and Thames Water, which are now in effect.

Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) changes

  • Addition of S104 as a requirement:

The HCC (NRSWA) Team updated S50 application requirements in May 2023. The new requirement is: S104 Adoption of the Lateral Drain from the sewer connection back to the development boundary.

  • Changes to S50 paperwork requirements

According to the Contractor Guidance provided by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), as part of the Section 50 licence application process, they now request the following additional documentation from applicants or contractors:

  • A site/location plan clearly displaying the intended point of (dis) connection for new or existing apparatus, or excavation points, for trial hole investigation work.
  • A Traffic Management Plan detailing how the contractor intends to manage traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian where applicable) throughout the works.
  • Public Liability Insurance for the Named Applicant and the Contractor performing the works.
  • Street Works Qualification Register Cards (SWQR) with a preference that there are SWQR cards for at least 1 Operative and 1 Supervisor per licence application.
  • Utility / STAT requests from each of the following Statutory undertakers – Affinity Water, BT Openreach, Cadent Gas, Thames Water, UK Power Networks and Virgin Media.
  • Section 106 Approval Letter – for category A or B works an email or letter from the respective Statutory undertaker giving their consent and/or awareness of the works going ahead is required.
  • Section 104 Adoption Agreement – an Adoption Agreement from the respective Statutory Undertaker who will be taking ownership of the apparatus once it is installed in the highway.
  • Payment – current costs available here.

Thames Water – Section 104 Agreements

What exactly is a Section 104 Adoption Agreement?

When a new development is planned, the Developer has the opportunity to construct the sewers using approved materials and to a standard which makes them suitable for adoption by the sewer provider when construction is complete.

An adoption agreement can be entered into under Section 104 of the Water Industry Act 1991 prior to the sewers being built. This is the most desirable arrangement and if all new developments were covered by such adoption agreements, there would be few, if any, new private sewers on housing estates.

However, there are many kilometres of existing private sewers that were built without an adoption agreement in place. Section 102 of the Water Industry Act 1991 provides for the adoption of such sewers to be considered.

The difference between sewers, drains, lateral drains and developments:

It is important to draw a distinction between sewers, drains, lateral drains, and developments. Here are three examples:

Development Example 1: Fronting Existing Highway

Separate developments connected to the public sewer each with their own Adopted lateral drain.

Development Example 2:  Drains Not Adopted within Development Boundary

Here the Adopted lateral drain connects the development to a public sewer.

Development Example 3: Drains Adopted within Development Boundary

Adopted lateral drain connecting last house. Adopted Sewer for connecting all other houses.

Unfortunately, in relation to the S104 adoption agreement, Thames Water do not differentiate between development examples.  The adoption process and fees for Development Example 3 would also be applied to Development examples 1 & 2.

Thames Water S104 Adoption Process

There has also been a change in requirements for the technical drawings required by Thames Water.  Drawings supplied must comply with Thames Water local practice and also be produced in conjunction with the Design and Construction Guidance for foul and surface water sewers offered for adoption under the Code for adoption agreements for water and sewerage companies operating wholly or mainly in England (“the Code”).

It’s important to note that in terms of fees, developers will be charged the same fees regardless of whether the agreement refers to 1 or 100 properties – the only change is in the value of construction costs.

Thames Water gives an estimated approval acceptance period of between 6 to 8 months.

Further information about the Thames Water timings, fees and processes can be found here.

Impact of these changes

Getting your Section 104 agreement in place before you make the Section 50 application is vital. The Section 104 timescale needs to change its position in your scoping/planning stages, and the timing for approval (which can be 6-8 months), as well as additional costs, should be factored in.

How PDS Can Help

These are significant changes. We can advise on how this will affect your plans, make sure your paperwork is correct, and help you create a realistic timeline. Give us a call on 01268 950050 and we’ll be happy to help.

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