Comply with septic tank and sewage treatment plant permits

How to comply with your permit, including maintenance, record keeping and pollution reporting requirements.

Applies to England

If you have a sewage discharge permit, you need to read it and comply with the conditions it sets out.

Contact the Environment Agency if you don’t understand the conditions.


You must have your septic tank or treatment plant emptied at least once a year. The company that gets rid of your waste sludge must be a registered waste carrier.

Check for pollution

You must check the area where you release sewage once a month for signs of pollution.

If you release sewage into the ground, check for:

  • sewage smells
  • signs that your sewage isn’t draining properly (for example, pools of water in the area where you release sewage)

If you release sewage into water, check for:

  • sewage smells
  • overflowing sludge
  • signs of white scum or foam on the water around the area where you release sewage

Contact the Environment Agency incident line if you see signs of pollution.

Environment incident hotline

Telephone (24 hour service) 0800 80 70 60

You must correct any problems you find after your monthly check – ask your maintenance company for help if required.

Keep records

You must keep records of work done to empty, maintain or repair your septic tank or sewage treatment plant, such as invoices, bills or receipts.

You must also keep a written record of any:

  • accidents you’ve had with your equipment or incidents that could have led to an accident
  • problems you’ve had with your equipment, how you dealt with them and what you’re doing to prevent the same problems happening again
  • complaints you’ve received about your equipment and how you resolved them
Published 31 December 2014