Your Property – Septic Tank Over spill | Parfitt Cresswell Solicitors
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Your Property – Septic Tank Over spill

Your property - septic tank over spill

If you are buying or selling a property that has a Septic tank, you need to be aware of your obligations under the new legislation. Are you aware of the changes in law that came into effect from the 1st January 2020 for septic tanks?


First of all, what is a septic tank?

If your property is not connected to the mains sewerage system, then you are likely to have a septic tank that collects all your waste. They are an underground chamber, usually made of plastic, fibreglass or concrete into which your sewage goes for treatment.  When the waste settles, through anaerobic processes the solid and organic matter starts to break down. The waste was then discharged into a local watercourse such as ditches, canals, rivers, streams or fields.

This is no longer permitted!


Why is the law being changed?

In a world which is more and more environmentally aware, it has been recognised that the current discharge system is creating pollution to watercourses and to land / soil.  As a result, the new legislation has been put into place to rectify this.


What do you need to do if your septic tank discharges into a watercourse?

There are two options. The first is to replace your existing septic tank for a new sewerage treatment plant which can then discharge into a watercourse so long as it is not into a protected zone. The second is to discharge into a drainage field (so long as you carry out a percolation test). It is important to note also, that any new property cannot have a septic tank.


Where can I find the necessary information?

The Government have provided detailed guidance and information on the binding rules and permits at:

The General binding rules are a minimum standard that must be met, and these are:

  1. Sewerage must be domestic in nature
  2. Must NOT cause pollution
  3. Does NOT discharge more that 5000 litres per day without a permit
  4. NOT discharge into a well or borehole more than 2000 litres per day within a protected zone without a permit


What does the new law state?

Under new legislation any property with a septic tank that does not meet the new standards cannot be sold until it is compliant. All properties with a septic tank should have upgraded before 1st January 2020.


What should I do?

If you are in any doubt about whether your septic tank meets the new standards, first check the government website.  Otherwise go to your septic tank manufacturer or a local provider of septic tank services.

septic tank

What are the consequences of not complying?

If you have not updated your system to date, it is recommended that you do so as a priority. The Environment Agency are responsible for any enforcement and possible sanctions.

Full details can be found at:

Potential enforcement options include written warnings, financial penalties, compliance notices, enforcement undertakings and at the top of the scale – prosecution.


For further information or advice please call us on 0800 999 4437 or email


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