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How New Septic Tank Regs Affect Owners

30.04.2015  |  

The new regulations came into force on the 1st January 2015 and simplify the requirement to register septic tanks and package treatment plants with the Environmental Agency. You do not need a permit to discharge if you are releasing 2 cubic metres of sewage to ground or 5 cubic metres of sewage directly to water (eg into a river or stream.) You will need a permit if you release more than this. Most domestic properties, pubs and small hotels will be producing less than this so will probably not need a permit.

The Regulations include a set of General Binding Rules that apply to these small sewage discharges. There are 14 of these rules that apply to existing systems and a further 7 that apply to new systems installed after 1st January 2015.  These Rules are legally binding requirements. One of the new changes is the introduction of the “operator” of the system. As far as the Regulator, in this case the Environment Agency, is concerned the operator is responsible for the performance of the plant. The operator will be responsible for ensuring that the General Binding Rules are being complied with. The operator is usually the landowner of the ground on which the tank is built. If the tank is built on land not owned by the householder then the householder ought to make a formal agreement with the landowner as to who is the operator of the tank.

You as "The Operator" must repair or replace the tank or treatment plant if it isn’t in good working order, for example if it has:

·  leaks,  cracks in tank walls or pipes,  blocked pipes,  a failed motor,  a failed pump,  a failed electrical supply

You must empty your septic tank or sewage treatment plant whenever it becomes full. You should empty it at least once a year even if it’s not full. The company you use to dispose of your waste sludge must be a registered waste carrier. It would be good practice to keep the invoices for waste disposal and any maintenance work - you may be required to provide proof if you come to sell the property in the future.

If you sell your property, you must inform the new operator in writing that a sewage discharge is in place.

Include the following information:

·  a description of the treatment plant and drainage system

·  the location of the main parts of the treatment plant, drainage system and discharge point

·  details of any changes made to the treatment plant and drainage system

·  details of how the treatment plant and septic tank should be maintained (and the maintenance manual if you have one)

·  maintenance records

If you need more information or advice or if you would like to book a septic tank empty, cesspit empty or treatment plant service then you can call 01900 870 140 or get in touch by email

You can see the original information on https://www.gov.uk/using-a-septic-tank-or-sewage-treatment-plant-at-a-home-or-business