Septic tanks and treatment plants: permits and general binding rules

4. 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:


Size of discharge Fee
Up to 5,000 litres (5 cubic metres) per day of domestic treated sewage £125
More than 5,000 litres (5 cubic metres) per day, or trade (non-domestic) treated sewage. There’s also an annual subsistence fee for these discharges £885

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, eg 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.