What are the British standards for septic tanks?

2020 septic tank regulations

As you might expect, there are plenty of standards to comply with when it comes to septic tanks, their location and wastewater discharge.

Some are best practice, to be followed to enable optimum functioning of your system – but others are tied to health and environmental legislation.

Firstly, your septic tank needs to satisfy the relevant British standards that were in place at time of installation.

But that may mean that different parts of your system are subject to different rules, if they were installed at different times.

So as long as each part meets the standards that applied on the date of installation, your septic tank should be compliant.

General binding rules

The current British standards for new systems are:

  • BS EN 12566 for septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants
  • BS 6297:2007 for drainage fields

And the latest regulations, which have existed in some form since 2015 but have been updated regularly since then, are called:

General binding rules: small sewage discharge to a surface water’ – which cover the majority of residences.

Any homeowner with a septic tank that expels into a watercourse, will need to replace or upgrade their system.

Wastewater is no longer considered clean enough to discharge directly into the watercourse (or soakaway systems).

And while this legislation has been in place for a while, it’s only recent regulation changes that require action to replace older septic tanks.

Prior to these, you already couldn’t install a new system that discharged into a watercourse – but now you may have to replace your old one.

Do I need to replace my septic tank?

So, if your current septic tank doesn’t satisfy the newest requirements, you’ll need to do one of the following:

  • Replace it with a small sewage treatment plant
  • Connect to a mains sewer
  • Install a drainage field or infiltration system so it can discharge to ground instead

Plans to carry out this required work should be in place within a reasonable timescale (typically 12 months).

And do you have plans to buy or sell a property with a septic tank that discharges into a watercourse?

Then you’ll need to agree with the other party precisely who is responsible for the replacement of the system and this must be included as a condition of sale.

Still unsure if your septic tank meets British standards?

Despite the timescale allowances in place, 12 months can go by pretty quickly, especially if you’re involved in a property sale or purchase.

If you’d like to speak to a professional about ensuring your system is compliant, please get in touch today.

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