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Septic Tanks Permits and General Binding Rules

When it comes to sewage systems and wastewater planning, there are a few things to keep in mind. That is why it is always important to familiarise yourself with the necessary legislation as well as all the rules and guidelines applicable to you. There can be many reasons why you may need to install your sewage system. The most common reason is that your house or property is not connected to the main drainage system.

In this case, your sewage can be handled in a few ways.  You can either install a septic tank, or you can make use of a cesspool, or even a small sewage treatment plant. This all depends on your personal needs, as well as what is available to your property. These all have their benefits, and it’s a great idea first to find out what system is best for your property. They are fairly easy to install, but it’s important to make use of an expert, especially if you are a new property owner. 

A small treatment tank is also known as a part-mechanical system that treats sewage liquid so that it is clean enough to go into a river or stream. This is also known as a package treatment plant and is quite popular for people looking for alternatives to a septic tank. Non-standard systems refer to a trench system or something similar, which you can also use. 

You can choose between these systems, depending on your unique needs. This can either be a normal septic tank, or a more complex sewage system. This is ideal for people who are not connected to the main sewage system and needs to handle their own sewage discharge. You need to apply for the system you choose so know beforehand what is required and how to apply. 

Keep in mind that a septic tank installation must be done by a professional unless you have enough experience to do it yourself. It’s a complicated system that has to adhere to all the guidelines. Be sure to ask expert advice and do a site survey if you are planning on installing your own septic tank system. 

Do You Have a Septic Tank?

A septic tank refers to an underground tank where all the liquids and solids are stored, with solids sinking to the bottom and liquid flow into the ground. A cesspool is also referred to as a cesspit, and this provides you with a sealed tank that connects all the sewage. There are various other systems available as well, depending on your needs. This also depends on the size of your property, how many people live in the building, and the type of system you choose to use. 

If your house is not connected to the main sewer supply, you will need to get a septic tank, as an option. This is especially true if you meet the general binding rules, and need to apply for a permit. The person who can operate the septic tank can be the owner of the property or the person that was granted permission by the property owner. If you stay on a property that shares a system with other owners, you are all responsible for the system and the general binding rules. 

It is important to know when you need an environmental permit, especially when it comes to discharging wastewater into the ground or surface. It's also important to know how to apply, to ensure that the entire process go smoothly. If you are an owner or operator, you need to know the general binding rules and adhere to them. If your sewage is domestic, e.g. from a toilet or bathroom in the home, you must follow these rules. The same goes for when you release sewage into the ground or in your garden.

If you are unsure of anything, contact the Environmental Agency. They will also be able to tell you if you are an owner or an operator. From here you can go ahead and plan the installation as well as choose the right system and know what the rules are. 

The General Binding Rules

General binding rules dictate that discharges from septic tanks directly to a surface water are not allowed. The rules were changed a few years ago, and it is important that you familiarise yourself with them so that you know how and when you should apply.

You may need to have an environmental permit if you are planning on discharging or collecting any wastewater. This is especially important if there are waste items that should be released into surface water or even into the ground. In this case, you will need to apply to the environment agency for a permit before you can operate.

In some cases, you don't need a permit, for example when you discharge uncontaminated water like clean rainwater from the roof or other small areas. You also don't need a permit if you discharge uncontaminated water collected from various areas such as parking areas and public roads. There are also certain low-risk groundwater activities that may be excluded from a permit.

It is important to note that there are specific rules for septic tanks for treatment plants that fall in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Apply for a Permit

To apply for a permit, you need to meet the binding rules, and you’ll need to fill in the necessary forms. This will all depend on how much sewage you discharge, and where you discharge it. There are different zones that you may fall under, inside the SPZ1 (groundwater protection zone) or outside it.

If you are outside the SPZ1 you have a form to fill in if you discharge up to 15 cubic metres per day, and another form if you discharge more than 15 cubic metres per day. If you fall inside the SPZ1 zone, you will also have two different forms, depending if you discharge more or less than two cubic metres per day. If you discharge less than this, you should fill in a form depending if your system was installed before or after January 1st, 2015.

The majority of these circumstances will fall under a standard rule permit. If you can’t get one, you will need a permit to discharge up to 20 cubic metres of sewage, and one if you discharge more than 20 cubic metres of sewage per day.

Before you start with your application, you need to have a grid reference for your treatment plant or your septic tank. You need to calculate the amount you’ll like discharge every day. You should also provide a suitable site plan with your application. Ask for professional help if you are not sure how to handle this. 

There are fees involved with your application, and this can range between £125 and £885. The tehe application can take up to 13 weeks and in some cases can take longer if there are planning issues. If your application is refused, you will be told the reasons, and you can rectify any issues to apply again. More details on the application forms can be found online as well as details on how exactly to apply and what information you will need to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.