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Septic tanks and treatment plants: permits and general binding rules

Overview

If your house or business is not connected to the mains sewer, your sewage will go to one of the following:

  • septic tank – an underground tank where the solids sink to the bottom and the liquid flows out and soaks through the ground
  • small sewage treatment plant (also known as a package treatment plant) – a part-mechanical system that treats the liquid so it’s clean enough to go into a river or stream
  • cesspool (also called a cesspit) – a sealed tank that collects the sewage
  • a non-standard system, such as a reed bed or trench arch system

There are different rules for septic tanks and treatment plants in Northern IrelandScotland and Wales.

You have a non-standard system

You must contact the Environment Agency to find out if you need a permit.

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