Important new legislation has just come into force, which affects homeowners whose properties are not connected to mains drainage. While this legislation is a positive step forward for the environment, it also means that owners of septic tanks urgently need to check what kind of installation they have to find out if their system meets these new requirements.

Gilson Environmental Services, who provide septic tank replacements across Suffolk from our bases in Ipswich and Harleston, share the background behind the new General Binding Rules legislation and what you need to do.


How Septic Tanks Work…

When wastewater leaves your home or business it travels down to your septic tank, where it is separated into sludge (solids) and scum (oils). The remaining effluent or fluids are then allowed to leave the tank via an outlet pipe, which discharges the liquid into a drainage field or water source, dispersing any harmful bacteria naturally.


…and How the Regulations Have Changed

However, from the 1st of January this year you are no longer be able to discharge your septic tank directly into a water source, such as a stream, river, ditch or pond. Continuing to do so would be breaking the law.

Now, you must either swap out your septic tank and replace it with a sewerage treatment system, which treats and purifies effluent before releasing it into a water source. If you are buying a sewage treatment system, it must have full BS EN 12566-3 certification. Your other option is to make sure your soakaway or drainage field meets minimums standards (British Standard 6297 2007.).

In addition, if your septic tank or sewerage system discharges more than 2 cubic metres of effluent per day into a water source, you will need to apply to the Environment Agency for a permit.

In October 2023 the rules were updated to take account of small sewage discharges; for more details follow this link.


Your Responsibilities

It is important to know that as a home or property owner you are regarded by the law as the operator of the septic tank or sewerage system and are therefore legally responsible for it. This could also be the case if you are a tenant or leaseholder. If you are a tenant or leaseholder, it is worth checking your agreement and/or contacting your landlord.

If you are selling your property, it is also your responsibility to tell any potential buyer about your tank. This includes the type of septic tank or sewerage system that you have, including its full service history for at least the last seven years along with any modification you may have made to the system. The buyer must also be informed in writing that they are now legally responsible for the discharge that comes from the system and abiding by the legislation.

Should your tank not be compliant with the new legislation, then this could affect the asking or final selling price of your property.


Septic Tank Replacement in Suffolk from Gilson Environmental Services

At Gilson Environmental Services we are up to date on all the latest regulations and legislation, including the new General Binding Rules legislation. Meaning we can advise you on what you need to do to meet your legal responsibilities.

If you need a septic tank replacement, we can upgrade it for you. We are also experienced sewage treatment plant installers in Ipswich, Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds and all across Suffolk, if that is the route you would like to take.

From our offices in Ipswich and Harleston, we can also help you with drain unblocking, as well as maintenance and repairs of drainage and discharge systems.

If you would like to know more, or require help upgrading your septic tank to meet the requirements of the new legislation, you can fill in our online contact form, or call us on 01473 741530.