If you’re planning to install a new septic tank, sewage treatment plant or cesspool you need to comply with the latest regulations.
You will need planning permission and building regulations approval for any new installation. If your system was installed after 1 January 2015 you will need to apply for these permissions retrospectively. This isn’t necessary if your system was installed before 1 January 2015.
You’re responsible for your sewage treatment system if you own a property that uses its own system, or shares a system with other properties. If you rent your home, your tenancy agreement will state whether you’re responsible for maintenance of your sewage treatment system. If you’re unsure whether the system is your responsibility you should contact the Environment Agency.
Cesspools must be maintained and emptied regularly. You must ensure that it doesn’t leak or overflow. The Environment Agency or your local council can make you repair or replace your cesspool if it’s in poor condition.
The following general binding rules are for septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants in England (there are different rules in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales):
You may need to apply for a permit under certain circumstances whether the sewage from your system discharges into the ground (for example your garden or land) or into surface water (for example a river or stream).
Whether your property is residential, commercial (such as a hotel, restaurant or office) or holiday accommodation (for example a cottage or chalet) you can calculate how much sewage you discharge per day. Use the calculators here.
The following rules apply to all existing systems (that were in use before 31 December 2014), whether they discharge to the ground or surface water. You must ensure that:
If your system discharges to ground you must also check whether you’re in a groundwater protection zone 1 (SPZ1).
If your system discharges to the ground and was installed or came into use on or after 1 January 2015 (a “new” discharge), you must also:
If your system discharges to surface water you must also:
Read more information on private sewage treatment rules and regulations on the government website.
For expert advice on the installation, maintenance, servicing and emptying of all kinds of septic tanks, cesspools and sewage treatment plants email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01634 250326. Free site surveys are available on request.
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