Septic Tank Regulations 2023 UK: What You Need to Know image
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Septic Tank Regulations 2023 UK: What You Need to Know

If you’re a homeowner in the UK, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest regulations regarding septic tanks. In this article, we will discuss the new septic tank regulations that will come into effect in 2023, providing you with the essential information you need to ensure compliance and avoid any potential penalties.

Understanding 2023 Septic Tank Regulations

Septic tanks play a crucial role in managing wastewater in properties not connected to the mains sewage system. To protect the environment and public health, the UK government has implemented regulations that govern the proper use and maintenance of septic tanks. These regulations are periodically updated to ensure they align with the latest environmental standards.

2023 Update to General Binding Rules

In the latest developments for 2023, the Environment Agency has introduced two fresh regulations, labeled Rule 22 and Rule 23, which are set to affect individuals utilizing private drainage systems. These newly instated regulations officially took effect on October 2nd, 2023. It’s essential to note that these rules pertain exclusively to new discharges. If you currently have an established system in place, you need not be concerned, as these rules will only apply if you decide to make alterations to the way and location of your discharges when replacing your current system.

Implications of the 2023 Regulations

There will be several key changes that septic tank owners in the UK need to be aware of in 2023. Let’s take a closer look at these implications:

1. Phasing Out of Discharge to Surface Water

One of the significant updates in the regulations is the phasing out of septic tanks that discharge directly to surface water, such as rivers or streams. From 1st January 2023, it will be illegal to install a new septic tank discharging to surface water. Existing installations will need to be upgraded or replaced, or when the property is sold. When selling a property with a septic tank or sewage treatment plant, you must provide your buyer with essential information, including a description, location, maintenance details, and previous records.

2. Introduction of Sewage Treatment Plants

Instead of discharging directly into surface water, property owners will now be required to install domestic sewage treatment plants. These plants treat wastewater to a higher standard, ensuring that the effluent is clean and safe before it is released into the environment. Sewage treatment plants are more efficient and environmentally friendly, contributing to the overall well-being of our ecosystems.

3. Regular Maintenance and Inspections

To ensure the proper functioning of septic tanks and sewage treatment plants, regular maintenance and inspections will be mandated through Rule 11 of the general binding rules. Property owners will be responsible for arranging these checks regularly by a competent person and keeping records of their maintenance activities. Regular inspections will help identify any issues early on, preventing potential environmental contamination and costly repairs in the long run. You may also be responsible for septic tank maintenance if you share its use with other properties, or have an agreement with the property owner. 

4. Installing a new Septic Tank System

When installing a new septic tank, it’s crucial to ensure compliance with the new guidelines. This involves obtaining planning permission from the local council, securing appropriate building regulations approval, and placing the tank at least 7 meters from a habitable property and within 30 meters of an access point for easy emptying. You should also evaluate the expected discharge, keeping in mind the specific limits for drainage fields and watercourses based on your sewage treatment plant. Additionally, ensure the chosen location is not within protected areas like ancient woodlands or within 50 meters of designated conservation sites. Note that if your tank or plant adheres to the general binding rules, you won’t require a permit.

Achieving Compliance

To comply with the 2023 septic tank regulations, follow these steps:

  • Check your septic tank’s discharge point. If it discharges to surface water, plan for an upgrade or replacement.
  • Install a sewage treatment plant that meets the required standards, ensuring proper treatment of wastewater.
  • Arrange regular maintenance and inspections by a professional. Keep detailed records of these activities.
  • Stay informed about any updates or changes in the regulations to maintain compliance in the future.


Being aware of the septic tank regulations that come into effect in 2023 is vital for all UK homeowners. By understanding the implications and taking the necessary steps to comply with these regulations, you contribute to the protection of the environment and the overall well-being of your community. Stay informed, take action, and ensure that your septic tank system is up to standard. 

We would recommend you get a Septic tank inspection if you are unsure.



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