New Septic Tank Emptying Regulations For 2020 – What You Need To Do

If you reside in a rural area, there is a good chance that you will have a septic tank. Generally located far away from urban sewer systems, countryside homes require a repository to make the collection of wastewater and sewage simple and safe – septic tank emptying ensures that your waste is collected without causing undue damage to the environment.

Whilst many homeowners have had their septic tanks running well for many years, new legislation is set to be enforced from the start of next year that requires certain properties to upgrade their tanks (if they haven’t already). The government are seeking to end the practice of septic tanks discharging directly into a local water source; these recently introduced rules are designed to reduce the level of pollution.

In this blog, we’re going to examine everything you need to know about the rules, as well as advise on the best course of action to take.

New Septic Tank Emptying Legislation For 2020

Anyone who is accountable for a property that has a septic tank (or in the process of buying an estate with a septic tank) will need up-to-date with the legal requirements by the 1st January 2020. Any avoidance of not wanting to upgrade will violate regulations and leave the property owners liable to pay a fine of up to £100,000.

In England, the new septic tank regulations state that all tanks must be connected to a suitable soakaway. They cannot discharge to surface water drains, rivers, canals, streams, ditches or any other types of waterway. The Environment Agency’s Septic Tanks General Binding Rules state that if you have a waste tank that discharges to surface water (a river, stream, ditch, etc) you will be required to upgrade or replace your existing tank treatment system to a full sewage treatment plant by 2020 (or when you sell the property – if prior to this date).

All septic tanks that discharge into waterways must either:

  • Be replaced, using sewage treatment plants that have full BS EN 12566-3 Documentation.
  • Be redirected away from waterways and into a drain field that has been designed and constructed to the up-to-date British Standard BS6297 2007.

It is also been recommended that any existing waste treatment systems are checked to ensure that they:

  • Are able to meet the relevant British Standard when installed – or have a CE mark.
  • Have sufficient capacity.
  • Were installed in line with the manufacturer’s original specifications.
  • Septic tank emptying is performed regularly, as well as the tank being maintained every year (or in line with the manufacturer’s specifications).
  • Are repaired or replaced by a competent person.
  • The sewage release is below the ‘mean low water spring mark’ (if the property is located in a tidal area).

There are also additional rules for discharges from a treatment system that was installed after 1st January 2015. These include;

  • If there was a discharge started on or before 1st January 2015.
  • Whether there was a discharge to surface water before 1st January 2015, which you now want to change to ‘discharge to ground’ (or vice versa).
  • If you had a discharge to ground before 1st January 2015 and you now want to install a new drainage field that is located more than 10m away from the existing one.

In any of these cases, the following steps need to be taken with your septic tank emptying:

  • If any part of your property that your treatment plant serves is within 30m of a public sewer, the Environment Agency will not allow a new discharge from a sewage treatment plant (this is multiplied by the number of properties – 60m for two properties, 90m for three, etc).
  • If there is good reason that you cannot access this sewer (due to a river or hill, etc) or if the discharge is within 500m of a protected area (i.e. a special area of conservation), a permit will need to be applied for.
  • Planning permission and building regulations approval needs to be sought for the installation of a sewage treatment plant.
  • New discharges to ditches or surface water will only be allowed if there is a sufficient all-year-round flow – the Environment Agency will offer advice on this.

So if you feel that your property will be affected by these new regulations or if you need advice on the best course of action to take, the waste management experts here at BKP are on hand to help.

Choose BKP For Comprehensive Waste Management

As part of our leading waste management services here at BKP, we are pleased to offer a complete septic tank emptying, maintenance and cleaning service to ensure that your property is able to abide by the change in environmental law.

Whether you’re currently experiencing any issues with your waste tanks or simply need to arrange a regular service, we are on hand to assist you with everything you need to ensure the running of a fully-functioning, safe waste disposal system.

Contact The BKP Team To Learn More About Septic Tank Cleaning

If you would like to discuss your particular septic tank emptying, cleaning or maintenance requirements, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us directly today. Give us a call on 0800 376 5004 or send an-mail to  and we’ll reply with all the information you need as soon as possible.

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