Q&A - Do I need to register my septic tank with the Environment Agency?

Q.  My neighbour is selling her house and her solicitor informed her that she needed to register her septic tank with the Environment Agency.  The tank was installed many years ago. I also have a septic tank installed at my property which has been there since the property was built in the 1970s. I have had no notification from the Environment Agency that I must register it.  Do I need to register my septic tank?   Do I need a permit?

A.  Many homes are not connected to mains drainage, instead having sewage treatment systems or septic tanks or occasionally cesspools. Pursuant to new Environment Agency Rules (Environment Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010) which came into force on 6th April 2010, sewage treatment systems and septic tanks must be registered with the Environment Agency.  Discharges from a system or septic tank to the ground must be registered by 1st January 2012.  If your sewage treatment system or septic tank discharges to a river or stream it must be registered immediately.  

Most small sewage treatment systems and septic tanks will be eligible for an exemption from Permit, but this does depend upon various factors (for example, if your property is close to a nature conservation area the Environment Agency may require that you obtain a permit) details of which can be obtained from the Environment Agency.  Registration is free and you only need to register once.  The Environment Agency will inform you in writing if they cannot accept your application for registration of exemption from permit and suggest you apply for a permit.  If you require a permit there is a one-off charge. 

To register your sewage treatment system or septic tank, or to apply for a permit, you should contact the Environment Agency either online or by requesting a form for completion by calling 08708 506 506.