Is it true that I can no longer have a septic tank according to the Environment Agency?


On the whole this is not true - you may be able to have a septic tank and still conform to the Environment Agency's regulations!

Here is what they stipulate about any septic tank:

  • Discharge is to ground and is of 2 cubic metres per day or less via a septic tank and infiltration system (soakaway) and is outside a source protection zone 1. This is approximately equivalent to 9 people occupying a single property.
  • Sewage is only domestic (for the definition of 'domestic' see the Registration of Small Sewage Discharges in England document in the downloads box).
  • Sewage system is maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions (if not, then in accord with the British Water codes of practice and technical guides) and you keep a record of all maintenance. In the case of septic tanks this includes regular emptying.
  • Discharge does not cause pollution of groundwater.

So basically you can have a septic tank as long as you have sufficient percolation to discharge to ground with a properly constructed soak away or drainage field and you do not exceed the 2 cubic meters discharge per day (or 9 people for a domestic property).

The soak away or drainage field must be constructed according to Section H of the Building Regulations 2002 and this means that you cannot discharge from a septic tank into a pit or a storm crate system. Soakaways or drainage fields must be constructed with a series of perforated pipes in trenches forming a continuous loop.

For more information on septic tank soakaways please click here.

In conclusion the answer is 'Yes' -  you can have a septic tank and conform to the Environment Agency's guidelines.