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Registration of septic tanks and private sewage disposal systems in both England & Wales was introduced in 2010, however registration was suspended by the Coalition Government pending a review.  The review was completed in October 2014 and new regulations – Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2014 – came into effect in January 2015 and were summarised by the Environment Agency in a set of ‘General Binding Rules‘.

The General Binding Rules set out the conditions in the regulations that allow a septic tank or sewage treatment plant to be used without an environmental permit.  For example, the conditions state ‘the sewage must receive treatment from a septic tank and infiltration system (drainage field)’ and ‘the discharge must not cause pollution of surface water or ground water’.  Discharges from septic tanks directly to a surface water were not allowed prior to the new regulations and are not allowed under the new regulations as they cause pollution to receiving watercourses.

However, to encourage people to take action, the Environment Agency have set a date by which you will need to replace or upgrade your treatment system if you have a septic tank that discharges directly to a surface water.  That date is 1 January 2020, or when you sell your property if before this date.  If the Environment Agency finds evidence that your septic tank is discharging to a surface water and is causing pollution you will need to replace or upgrade your system earlier than 1 January 2020.

If you have a septic tank with a direct discharge to a watercourse (e.g. brook, stream, river, rhyne, ditch or swale) and require a legal solution, please contact WCI on 01984 623404. We can arrange for an engineer to visit site, inspect your current system and prepare a quotation with your options explained.