Project Description

There have been several articles in the press regarding the possible fines homeowners may face if they do not register their septic tanks and often our customers find there is a lack of information about what to do.

Essentially, if your home has a septic tank or a package sewage treatment plant, then you need to register the system with the Environment Agency (EA) by the end of 2011.  You do not need to register a cesspool or cesspit, as these are sealed systems with no discharge to the environment.

Most septic tank systems and sewage treatment plants do not cause problems as long as they are maintained by their owners.  When working correctly, the wastewater poses no threat to the environment or human health, but problems can sometimes occur and need to be dealt with quickly.  The EA are responding to new legislation which calls for all small sewage discharges to be registered (Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations, 2010). 

The EA website has all the forms you will need to complete the registration and you can apply online or download an application form.   To request a paper copy of the form call 03708 506 506 (Mon-Fri 8am – 6pm).  For online information, including the forms and frequently asked questions go to: Alternatively you can email:

The EA estimates that the online process takes 10-15minutes to complete.  If the EA accept your exemption registration (i.e. it meets their criteria) there is no charge.  For more complicated discharges, you will need to apply for an environmental permit for which there is a charge and the EA will advise you if this is necessary.  If you don’t register with the EA, you may be liable to further action from them, which may include a fine.

Generally, septic tanks should be emptied once a year (following British Standard 6297), depending on the size of the property.  Each septic tank will have been designed to process and retain a set volume of waste, based on the flows from the property.  When the tank is not emptied regularly, or if surface water passes through the tank, solids are displaced forwards to the soakaway which can cause it to blind.  This makes the soakaway less efficient and in some cases will stop working and require replacement.  Soakaways with a septic tank should last between 20-25 years before remedial action is needed, and considerably longer if a packaged treatment plant is installed.

Sewage treatment plants should be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, which is normally an annual service and emptying for an average household.  Using an Accredited Service Engineer ensures they know your system and can service and maintain it to the manufacturer’s original specification.

EnSo can help you complete your permit to discharge, as well as providing advice on servicing and maintenance of sewage treatment plants.

To get in touch, please call 01420 511 590, email or visit our website