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Septic tanks and private sewage treatment systems

What is a private sewage system?

It deals with waste water not served by the mains sewer. For example, a septic tank.

It should not affect the environment if you look after it.

But if you do not look after it, it can affect:

  • human health
  • drinking water
  • protected areas

We have a simple information tool that explains everything you'll need to know. To access it you can sign up with Netregs.

If you have a private sewage system you need to register it with us.

You’ll need proof of registration for new builds or as part of a sale.

You must ask us to check if you're already registered if you’re unsure.

We don’t give refunds if you apply and you’re already registered.

Register a private sewage system

You can apply online if the system:

  • has been in use for 2 years or more; and
  • serves 9 properties or less.

The online service is the quick and easy but you could instead download the "Registration - Existing sewage discharge" (paper) form.

If your system is less than two years old you must download the "Registration - New discharge" (paper) form to register a new discharge.

For a treatment systems that serves more than 9 properties, you'll need to apply for a licence using Form A and Form B.

You can contact us to talk about your options before you apply.

Meeting the conditions of registration

If your application is successful we’ll confirm your registration.

You must meet the conditions of registration.

In England septic tanks need to be upgraded by 2020. This does not apply in Scotland.

Read the full Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011

Read the amendments to the regulations

Or read our summary of the regulations

Get further help

Contact us if you need any further help or advice at any stage of your registration.