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Septic Tank & Treatment Plant Permits

01.04.2015  |  

Septic Tank & Treatment Plant Permits – Changes from 1st January 2015

The Government has reformed the regulatory system to control small sewage discharges from septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants in England. This new regulatory system is described in Statutory Instruments Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2014.

And if you got past the initial paragraph – well done!

I’ll summarise the new regulations below, have a read and if you have any questions about what your new responsibilities are under these new regulations then we’ll be more than happy to try to help. We can help with the maintenance aspects, desludging and building a dossier on your system.

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.

Whilst there is a much reduced need to register it’s not all plain sailing. 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 in regulations that set the minimum standards or conditions that apply. One of the new changes is the introduction of the “operator” of the system. The operator is a person who has control over the operation of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant by reason of (a) being the owner of the land on which the septic tank or sewage treatment plant is situated or being used; or (b) having entered into a written agreement with the owner of the land on which the septic tank or sewage treatment plant is situated to be responsible for the maintenance of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant. In the eyes of the Regulator, in this case the Environment Agency 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.

So, if your tank and soak away is located on land owned by another person then you will need to reach a formal agreement about who is the operator. Also if you have a shared septic tank on your property then you will also need a written agreement with the neighbours who share the tank – especially in relation to maintenance costs etc.

The Regulations include maintenance requirements and further requirements if you sell your property:

You must repair or replace your 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

If Environment Agency officers find that your tank or treatment plant is causing pollution during a river inspection, they’ll discuss steps you can take to stop this.

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.

If you sell your property, you must inform the new operator (the owner or person responsible for the sewage treatment plant or septic tank) 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 have them

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