Check your septic tank meets new regulations

Published August 13th, 2019

Rules regarding septic tanks are changing and farmers and property owners are reminded that they have until January 1, 2020 to ensure their septic system is compliant.

New septic tank rules were introduced on January 1, 2015 to improve water quality and reduce pollution from sewage into the country’s watercourses. Tanks installed before this date are classed as ‘existing discharges’ and those installed after this date are classed as ‘new discharges’.

“Under the new Environment Agency General Binding Rules (GBR), if your septic tank discharges into any type of watercourse, you must replace or upgrade the treatment system to a full sewage treatment plant by January 1, 2020, or when you sell your property if it falls before this date,” said  Nia Bushell, surveyor at the Shrewsbury office of Berrys.

“Previously, the effluent from your septic tank could be discharged to a soakaway or directly to a waterway.”

All septic tanks, whether new or existing, that discharge into watercourses, will have to be either:

  • Replaced using a sewage treatment plant with full and correct certification known as BS EN 12566-3 Certification, or
  • The discharge to the watercourse stopped and diverted to a drainage field, designed and constructed to the current British Standard BS6297 2007.

No other method of disposal is allowed.

The septic tank must meet the British Standard in place at time of installation. It will meet these standards if:

  • It is CE marked
  • The documentation accompanying your tank has a British Standard Certificate of compliance
  • The tank is on the list of British Water’s approved equipment

“The above standards do not apply to septic tanks installed before 1983 as no British Standards were in place,” Nia explained.

“The septic tank must be large enough to meet the needs of the house and the engineer fitting the tank must ensure it is capable of doing so. You must also increase the size of the septic tank if you increase the volume of sewage entering it.

“Your septic tank should be emptied as suggested by the manufacturer’s instructions if it is a large tank. Otherwise, the settled sludge should be emptied once yearly to prevent interference with the tank’s ability to settle solids and its capability.

“If your septic tank has any faults such as cracked and leaking pipes, drainage field problems and smells from the tank or drainage area, then you must get it repaired or replaced by a competent person listed on the British Water’s list of accredited service engineers,” she added.

For further information contact surveyor Nia Bushell or Sophie Wall at the Shrewsbury office of Berrys on 01743 271697 email or


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