January 8, 2020

Septic Tanks

The Environment Agency has made changes to the General Binding Rules which will take effect from 1 January 2020.

Is your property served by a Septic Tank?

The Environment Agency has made changes to the General Binding Rules which will take effect from 1 January 2020. These affect both new and existing septic tanks.

Septic tanks work by settling the solids within a chamber and then discharging the liquid septic effluent into the ground by a specially designed drainfield.

The General Binding Rules will no longer allow septic tanks to discharge effluent into watercourse from 1 January 2020. If there is an existing septic tank which does discharge into a watercourse the owner must either:

  1. Upgrade the septic tank treatment to a full sewage treatment plant or
  2. The discharge to the watercourse stopped and a connection from the septic tank to a drainfield connected

Drainfields consist of a number of rigid perforated pipes in a trench covered in drainage stone. The pipe allows the effluent to filter through the pipe and seep into the ground to be broken down further by soil bacteria. This is not to be confused with a soakaway pit or crates, which are not allowed.

Soakaways are primarily designed for draining rainwater thus not appropriate. Should a current system be used for draining septic tank effluent an application to the Environment Agency should be made or the system upgraded in line with the new legislation.

Septic tanks must meet the relevant British standard in force when it was installed. However, if a tank was installed prior to 1983 it does not have to meet the British Standard as they were not in place.

From 1983 they need to meet the relevant standard as detailed below:

  • – CE Marked
  • – Certification of compliance with British Standard
  • – The tank is detailed on the British Water’s list of approved equipment for BS EN 12566-1

Further regulations are applicable if your septic tank is located within 50 metres of:

  • – Special conservation areas
  • – Special protection areas
  • – Ramsar sites
  • – Biological sites of special scientific interest

Ensuring new septic tanks are of the correct size is key. Meller Speakman will be carrying out surveys of all managed properties on septic tanks over the next 12 months and advising clients of the necessary works.

Please get in touch if you would like us to advise you.

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