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Septic Tank Regulations Update 2020, Will It Affect Me?

Fri 6 September 2019

Not the most glamorous of topics, but if your one of those who live in a rural area the likelihood is that you will have a septic tank, or similar treatment facility. But many will be pleased to note that Cess pits and Sewage treatment plants are not affected by this update.

The new rules will only affect a small minority of property owners, however if you are one of these, or are looking at purchasing an affected property then it is something that will need to be resolved. 

So the basics. The regulations themselves have been around since 2015, the guidelines set into affect a timeframe for upgrades to be put into place (5 years). These all come from 'general binding rules:small sewage discharge to a surface water' this is an important document for many property owners.

In the past you were able to discharge from a septic tank into either a drainage field or a watercourse. If you discharge into a drainage field, for example a network of pipes laid into subsoil, commonly known as spreaders, then you are not affected by this update.
If you discharge into a watercourse (a stream, a river or a lake) and your system was installed prior to 1st January 2015 then your system will no longer be permitted. The simple reason behind the change is that the quality of the output is not considered clean enough to go straight into the local watercourses without causing pollution.

So if you are affected what do you need to do?
There are two simple options are available to enable you to comply. Either upgrade your septic tank to a sewerage treatment plant, as these are allowed to discharge to a water course due to the higher output quality, or change the output to a drainage field. A third option is commented, but viewed as highly unlikely and this is connect to a mains sewer, a rare chance in the rural communities.

The key date is 1st January 2020, as the system must be upgraded by this point. After the deadline date the Environment Agency have the power to start prosecuting and issuing fines.

The aim is one that will benefit the property owner and the local community by improving the local watercourses and environment.

If you would like any further advice or wish to speak regarding any specific matters, please contact your local McCartneys office to speak to a member of the Planning and Survey Department.

Geraint Jones. BSc(Hons) MRICS - Partner
McCartneys Planning and Survey Department
Tel 07875 222835, 01686 623123

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