Septic tanks and treatment plants: permits and general binding rules

Apply for a permit

You’ll need a permit if you don’t meet the general binding rules.

The form you need to fill in depends on:

  • where you discharge the sewage
  • how much you discharge

If you discharge sewage to ground

There are different forms depending on whether you’re in a groundwater protection zone (SPZ1).

Outside an SPZ1

There are different forms if you discharge:

Inside an SPZ1

If you discharge less than 2 cubic metres per day there are different forms:

There are different forms if you discharge:

If you discharge sewage to a surface water

If you discharge between 5 and 20 cubic metres per day, check if you can apply for a standard rules permit.

If you can’t get a standard rules permit, you’ll need a permit to discharge:

Before you start

You need:

Application fees

Your application fee depends on whether your site is a domestic household, charity or another type of organisation.

You’re discharging to ground

The application fee for domestic households and charities to discharge up to 5,000 litres (5 cubic metres) per day is £125.

The fees are different for other organisations.

Size of discharge per day Fee
Up to 15,000 litres (15 cubic metres) £2,708
Over 15,000 litres (15 cubic metres) £5,699
Any volume that contains specific substances £6,052

You’re discharging to a surface water

The application fee for domestic households and charities to discharge up to 5,000 litres (5 cubic metres) per day is £125.

The fees are different for other organisations.

Size of discharge per day Fee
Up to 5,000 litres (5 cubic metres) £2,534
Between 5,000 litres (5 cubic metres) and 50,000 litres (50 cubic metres) £4,170
Any volume that contains specific substances £7,649

Annual fees

There’s an annual subsistence fee for sites that are not domestic households or charities.

Size of discharge per day Fee
Up to 5,000 litres £251
Between 5,000 litres and 20,000 litres with operator self monitoring £823
Between 5,000 litres and 20,000 litres £890
Between 20,000 litres and 50,000 litres with operator self monitoring £1,310

How long it takes

You should get a decision on your application within 13 weeks.

You’ll be told if your application may take longer, for example because of planning issues.

Your application is refused

If your application is refused, you’ll be told:

  • the reasons for refusal
  • how you can appeal

Complying with your permit

See the guidance on how to comply with your permit, including maintenance, record keeping and pollution reporting requirements.

Get help

You can ask the Environment Agency for help with your application.