Discharge to Ground

It is common practice, particularly in non-sewered rural areas, to discharge treated sewage to ground via a drainage field/soakaway. Beneficial bacteria present in the drainage field provide natural purification of the discharge and ensure that the underlying groundwater supplies are protected from pollution.

If you are the operator of small sewage treatment plant that discharges to ground then you must either comply with the ‘General Binding Rules’ or apply for an Environmental Permit from the Environment Agency.

To benefit from the General Binding Rules an operator of an existing treatment plant, (dating from before 1st January 2015), must comply with the following criteria:-

For new discharges started after 1st April 2015 there are additional rules that apply and these include:-

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Further information on the rules can be found on the .Gov.Uk website at:-


If you cannot meet the rules or are in any doubt we would advise that you contact the Environment Agency on 0370 850 6506 to discuss the matter. Advice on applying for an Environmental Permit can also be obtained from the free Environment Agency Pre-application service at:-