New Sewage Regulations to Protect Human Health and the Environment

17 May 2011

Until recently, property owners who had a sewage treatment plant or septic tank that discharged to either ground or a watercourse, needed to have a Consent to Discharge from the Environment Agency under the Water Resources Act 1991. On the 6th April 2010 these rules changed.

The aim of the legislation is to improve the regulations and reduce administrative burdens in the delivery of environmental protection and human health issues.

An Exemption Scheme is available and you can now register for an Exemption from a Permit to Discharge for:

  • Sewage treatment plants discharging up to 5 cubic metres (5000 litres per day) or less into surface water
  • Septic tanks discharging up to 2 cubic metres (2000 litres per day)

Owners of existing installed septic tanks and sewage treatments plants that hold a Consent to Discharge do not need to re-register under EPP2 provided those systems are operated and maintained properly.

Once you have registered an exemption you are under an obligation to maintain the system in good working order. EPP2 recommends that systems are regularly inspected and maintained to include desludging/emptying, servicing and inspection. In the case of a new house, servicing, emptying and maintenance records must be kept for a period of five years.

The registration of an Exemption is free. Otherwise, an application for a Permit will be necessary which can cost up to £900.

If you are looking to buy a property with a septic tank or sewage treatment plant it is important that you check that the system has already been registered, or ensure that the current owner registers it with exempt status or gets a Permit before exchange of contracts and completion.

Further information can be found at: www.environment-agency.gov.uk