In the past you were able to discharge the effluent from a septic tank in two ways, either to a soakaway system or directly to a water course.
Septic tank regulations for both England and Wales changed on the 1st of January 2020. All septic tanks that discharge directly to surface water now require upgrading.
If the final effluent from the septic tank currently discharges directly into a water course such as a river or stream this is no longer permitted under the new regulations. Direct discharge from a septic tank into a water course is no longer permitted. The water course has also to flow all year round. You are no longer permitted to discharge into a water course which seasonally dries up. You are now required to upgrade your system to a sewage treatment plant or install a drainage field to your existing system.
If your existing sewage treatment system does not meet the new regulations then replacing it with a sewage treatment plant is the most effective long-term beneficial solution. For systems which directly discharge to a water course your new plant will need to be specified correctly to the standard BS EN 12566 and will need to be regularly emptied and maintained.
Permits and licensing
If you are planning on installing a new sewage treatment plant it is advisable to contact your local planning authority and consult the building control officer as to whether a building notice is required for the work which you need to carry out.
Often you need to notify the Environment Agency to register the sewage treatment system for a consent to discharge license or a bespoke permit if required.