It may not be a glamorous subject that covers the front pages of glossy magazines, but it’s something that many need to know. As of January 1st 2020, the laws are changing regarding the drainage of septic tanks. If you have a septic tank at your property, you will need to be aware of these changes.

Justin Lowe, Partner here at GTH, outlines the changes you need to know:

Up until now, if your septic tank drains into a watercourse and the Environmental Agency deemed it not to cause a problem, this was okay. Under the new legislation this is no longer allowed and must be changed.

The problem for many homeowners is that they don’t know what kind of drainage system they have and are unlikely to know about the changes that need to be put in place by January 1st 2020. A lack of compliance can lead to a fine, as well as potentially causing harm to the environment.

As well as ensuring the drainage is up to scratch, you also need to be aware of the regulations regarding the location of the septic tank, for example, according to the UKDP the drainage field should:

  • be at least 10m from a watercourse.
  • be at least 15m from any building.
  • be at least 50m from a water supply (e.g. well).
  • not be near any access roads, driveways or paved areas.

The Environmental Agency have the authority to test any off mains drainage system that they believe to be causing a problem. This applies if you are buying or selling a property with a septic tank, and can interrupt the process which is why understanding your drainage is so vital in the run up to the deadline.

You can read more about the legislation here.

Need advice about your septic tank? Speak to Justin Lowe – 01935 423474 |

Not sure what drainage system you have? Check out UKDP’s guide to tell the difference. 

Disclaimer: This guide is to highlight the regulations impacting septic tank drainage, and is not intended to provide legal advice.