Drains and sewers are presently the responsibility of the landowner from the property up to and including the connection onto the adopted sewer which at this point becomes the responsibility of the sewerage authority. Many landowners are unaware of their responsibilities and legislation is presently being reviewed by central government. This is because the drain or sewer may cross a substantial part of the highway before connecting onto the adopted infrastructure and maintenance/repairs can be significantly costly especially where the highway is subject to substantial traffic or engineering difficulties. The connection is also private which adds to potential problems given that connection points are often where problems arise.
Until the outcome of the national review is published, placing of a private drain or sewer requires a Section 50 licence. On application, the applicant must provide evidence that the connection to the adopted infrastructure has been approved by the sewerage authority. Such licences run for an undetermined period and therefore should be updated during land transfers to ensure that new landowners take responsibility for the apparatus and are aware of their obligations.
The granting of a licence for drains and sewers can be refused but is not common.