Private sewage treatment systems / septic tanks

In England, there's a requirement to upgrade septic tanks by 1 January 2020. This doesn't apply in Scotland.

The requirements in Scotland are on this page.

What is a private sewage treatment system?

They're systems used to treat and dispose of waste water where a property can't connect to the mains sewer. They're often septic tanks.

If properly maintained, they'll rarely present a hazard. If not properly maintained, there can be an impact human health, drinking water supplies, shellfish or bathing waters.

If you have a sewage treatment system on your property, you must register it with us. Proof of this is required when new properties are being built or where existing properties change hands.

If you're not sure whether you system is already registered, you must ask us to check. We won't offer a refund for any duplicate application.

How do I apply?

Our practical guide will let you know what level of authorisation should be applying for.

Please contact us to discuss treatment options before submitting your application.

When you're ready to apply you can download and complete an application form and return it, with the appropriate fee, by post to your local SEPA office.

Compliance with regulations

Operators are expected to meet the conditions of their authorisation. We have powers to withdraw the authorisation if not.

We can, if necessary, escalate the level of authorisation in order to protect the water environment.

Private sewage treatment systems are regulated by the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 and their amendments. Our introduction to the regulations summarises the main features.

Help, advice and more information

If you require any further help or advice at any stage during the application process, please contact us.