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New 2020 Septic Tank Regulations

The new 2020 septic tank regulations will soon be in full effect. If you own or manage property in either England or Wales, particularly in the countryside, then there is a strong chance that you have a septic tank. 

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Are You Ready for the New 2020 Septic Tank Regulations?


Septic tanks are a standard solution in use when dealing with old properties or new builds that do not have direct access to the main drainage.

The new 2020 General Binding Rules apply you if you fall within the categories outlined below:

  1. You are the owner of the property where the system is in place.
  2. A person that uses the system.
  3. A person currently selling a property that employs such a system.
  4. Owner of an investment property/holiday home where operation and maintenance of the system remains with the property owner.
  5. A tenant or leaser of the property who has, in writing (please review your tenant agreement) taken responsibility for both the operation and maintenance of the system while your tenancy is in place.

If buying or selling a property, you are now legally required to inform any potential buyers in writing if the property has a septic tank as well as provide all information regarding maintenance requirements and the location of the system.

2020 Septic Tank Regulation Handbook

What are the 2020 Septic Tank Regulations?

Under the new 2020 septic tank regulations (or 2020 General Binding Rules), septic tanks can no longer discharge directly into a watercourse must upgrade their sewage treatment system by January 1, 2020, or sooner if the property is going up for sale before this deadline. The tank will also require replacement if the Environmental Agency (EA) finds that it is causing pollution.

In accordance with these regulations, your septic tank or wastewater treatment plant has to meet British Standards BS EN 12566, while any drainage field is required to meet BS EN 6297:2007 standards. The new rules aim to reduce the level of pollution present in national waterways by better controlling and regulating discharge requirements to a watercourse.

NOTE: Different rules may apply to for septic tank regulations Scotland, Wales or further locations near a groundwater source protection zone.

For information relating to individual locations within the UK, visit official sources of the required regulatory and advisory bodies:

What options do I have?

If your current system does not meet the 2020 General Binding Rules requirements, you have three options:

  1. Connect to the local main sewer system if one is close enough for this to be possible.
  2. Install a drainage field if you have enough suitable land available to do so.
  3. Replace your non-compliant system with a modern and efficient sewage treatment plant.

You must have your septic tank repaired or replaced if it has any of the following faults:

  1. Cracked pipes, cracked walls, missing dip pipes, faulty mortar joints etc.
  2. If any of the pipes or walls show signs of leakage.
  3. Pipe blockages entering, inside, or leaving the tank.
  4. Backing up issues with the tank or manholes.
  5. notable soggy areas on the ground vicinity near the drainage field.
  6. The pooling of water around the tank or drainage field.
  7. A notable smell emanating from the drainage area or tank.

For a summary of your responsibilities relating to the new regulations and how you may be affected, download our free eBook today!

How do I Become Septic Tank Regulations 2020 Compliant?

​There are three primary solutions available to ensure compliance with the new Environmental Agency regulation before the deadline of January 1, 2020:

  1. Existing septic tank gets replaced by a sewage treatment plant certified CE12366-3. The treated effluent environment-friendly suitable to discharge to a watercourse.
  2. Discharge to watercourse stopped and redirected to a drainage field to be designed and installed/constructed to meet British Standard BS 6297 2007.
  3. Connect to the main sewer if available.

If the treated effluent is sufficiently clean, you may be able to discharge directly into surface water, if there is a suitable watercourse nearby.

For a full listing of how the upcoming 2020 regulation changes to the septic tank regulations may affect, you download your free 2020 Septic Tank Regulation Handbook today!

Tricel Novo Sewage Treatment Plant

Tricel Novo suitable for septic tank upgrade

Required 2020 Septic Tank Regulatory Standards

If a septic tank got installed before 1983, prior to when standards were in place, it most likely does not meet the required standards, To do so the following is necessary;

  1. CE certificate
  2. Compliance with BS standards
  3. Sized and installed correctly (drainage field also)
  4. Regularly desludging/emptied and maintained

For a summary of your responsibilities relating to the new regulations and how you may be affected, download our free eBook today!

What are the differences between septic tanks and sewage treatment plants?

Sewage treatment plants provide treatment of the wastewater inside a tank whereas septic tanks separate the solids from the liquid in the tank and use a percolation area or sewage treatment filters after the tank to provide the final treatment of the effluent.

A quick way of identifying the solution type that your property employs is by applying the following parameters:

  • Most sewage treatment plants require power to run the aeration and carry out the wastewater treatment process; septic tanks do not.
  • A septic tank generally requires emptying once per year, where sewage treatment plants get emptied at intervals of three to sixty months.
  • The level of treatment from a sewage treatment plant is very high, allowing for discharge directly to a stream, ditch watercourse or drainage field.
  • A septic tank produces a much more pollutant effluent which must be discharged to a drainage field for further treatment from natural aerobic soil bacteria in order to process the effluent to an acceptable purification level equal to that of a sewage treatment plant.

What is a drainage field?

A drainage field is a designated drainage area where discharged effluent gets dispersed from either septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems. It consists of a series of perforated pipes laid under the earth which dispel the effluent over a designated area based on tests carried out during the installation process.

The use of this area allows for further treatment of the wastewater after initial processing and before waterway dispersion, thus improving quality.

What to know when selling a property with a fitted septic tank

  • Description of the property’s sewage treatment solution.
  • Location of the main elements, drainage field and discharge point.
  • Details of any changes or alterations made to the system and drainage field.
  • How it should be maintained, including the manufacturer’s manual if available.
  • Maintenance records, if possible.

If replacing your non-compliant system with a modern and efficient sewage treatment plant, it is critical to ensure that your new system is sized and installed correctly and in accordance with British Water’s Flows & Loads 4 Guidance.

For a full listing of how the upcoming 2020 regulation changes to the septic tank regulations may affect you, download your free 2020 Septic Tank Regulation Handbook today!

If you are affected by the 2020 septic tank regulations and you have further questions, you can contact us to advise you on requirements, book a site visitor to request a quote. Tricel has a full team of experienced technical experts standing by to help find the ideal solution for your situation.


Summary of the upcoming 2020 regulation changes

Still unsure? Need advice? Discuss your project with us today! We’re here to help.

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Our products are certified to EN12566-1 and EN12566-3

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Tricel Environment UK

A trading brand of Dewey Waters Ltd.
Heritage Works, Winterstoke Road, Weston-super-Mare, BS24 9AN, United Kingdom.
Tel: +44 (0)1934 422 311