Do You Need Planning Permission for a Sewage Treatment Plant in England?

There is a chance that you will need planning permission for a sewage treatment plant in England. However, this will depend on your local authority. You will need to contact your local council to find out the exact requirements for your area.

Planning permission is not the only legal requirement you need to meet in order to install a sewage treatment plant. You will also need Building Regulations approval and will need to ensure the system meets the general binding rules.

To find out more about this, see our advice pages or read more on this below.

If Your Property Has a New Discharge

A property is considered to have a new discharge if:

  • The discharge hasn’t yet started (i.e., you are in the process of planning an installation)
  • The discharge started on or after 1st January 2015
  • The discharge changed in type (from ground to surface water or vice versa) on or after 1st January 2015
  • It has moved more than 10m on or after 1st January 2015
  • The discharge has increased to more than 2 cubic metres (2,000 litres) a day if it goes to ground or more than 5 cubic metres (5,000 litres) a day if it goes to surface water, on or after 1st January 2015

The Environment Agency requires new discharges to be connected to a mains sewer line (also called a “public foul sewer”), if deemed reasonable. If a connection is feasible, a permit for a sewage treatment plant will not be granted. If connecting to the mains sewer is not viable, installing a sewage treatment plant is recommended. This requires Building Regulations approval and may necessitate planning permission.

Existing Discharges

If you have recently bought a property containing a sewage treatment plant, you will need to find out if the installation is a new discharge. If it isn’t, it is considered an “existing” discharge and you will need to ensure it complies with the general binding rules.

If you cannot meet the general binding rules, you will need to apply for a permit through the Environment Agency.

General Binding Rules

The general binding rules are the regulations that must be followed in relation to septic tanks and sewage treatment plants. A full list of what must be complied with, as well as updates which are due to go into effect from October 2023, can be found on the UK government’s page about general binding rules for small sewage discharges in England.

To comply with general binding rules, you will need to:

  • Speak to the Environment Agency if you are installing a new system, in case a permit is needed for the work to go ahead
  • Speak to your local council to check that the intended installation meets building regulations
  • Make sure the system is regularly maintained by a professional and that it’s regularly emptied by a licensed waste carrier
  • Limit discharge to 2,000 litres of wastewater per day when discharging to ground (i.e. a drainage field)
  • Limit discharge to 5,000 litres per day when discharging to surface water (i.e. a body of above-ground water, like a stream)
  • Get a permit if you intend to discharge more than the amounts given above
  • Inform the buyer in writing that the property has a sewage treatment plant, if you ever plan on selling your property

Helping You Comply with General Binding Rules

BlockBusters are your trusted partner in managing and optimising private drainage systems. With our extensive experience, we excel at maintaining sewage treatment plants, ensuring they operate flawlessly.

Count on us to navigate the intricacies of general binding rules, guaranteeing your system’s compliance. Experience peace of mind as we deliver regular maintenance and attentive care. Reach out to us today to schedule a comprehensive inspection for your system.

Could You Get a Free Upgrade?

Considering a small sewage treatment plant in place of an existing septic tank? We can help you install a sewage treatment system for free! If your current tank is old, worn, and in need of major repair work, our team can get a system installed to replace it with everything covered by your insurance provider.

This can save you thousands, so get in touch to get started.

Contact the team