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Permit and Exemption to Discharge

The Bio-Pure is a small packaged sewage treatment plant, which can discharge directly to surface water (and groundwater) as it is treated.  The rules for discharging sewage effluent in England and Wales have recently changed (on 6th April 2010) under The Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.  You will now need to apply for an exemption or for a permit (if you do not qualify for exemption).  It is illegal to discharge sewage effluent without a registration (of exemption) or permit.  Failure to register or obtain a permit may result in enforcement action by the Environment Agency. 

How do I know whether I can obtain an exemption or whether I need a permit?

There are certain criteria to meet in order to apply for an exemption.  If these criteria cannot be met, then you should apply for a permit.  Firstly, you will need to know how much effluent you will be discharging a day.  The Environment Agency has a simple way to work out the volume that you will be discharging each day (see below).  This will give you a good idea whether you should apply for a permit or exemption.


Please note that this only applies to domestic effluent, if your effluent contains trade effluent, please view the information on permits.  It is probably wise to speak to your local Environment Agency too.


If you are discharging to:

·         Surface water (i.e. a watercourse) under 5m3 a day; or

·         Groundwater (i.e a soakaway) under 2m3 a day

Go to the information on exemptions to check the further criteria.


If you are discharging

·         To surface water over 5m3 per day; or

·         To groundwater over 2m3 per day

Go to the information on permits to check which type of permit you require.

How to work out the daily volume of domestic effluent:


Total number of bedrooms = A

Number of properties that feed into unit = B

Total B × 0.5 = Total C

Total A + Total C = Total D

Total D × 150 = Total E

Total E ÷ 1,000 = Total F

Total F is the maximum volume of effluent you are discharging per day.


For example:


Total number of bedrooms = 8 (4 in each property)

Number of properties that feed into unit = 2

2 × 0.5 = 1

8+ 1 = 9

9 × 150 = 1620

1620 ÷ 1,000 = (F) 1.62m3

The total maximum daily volume to discharge is 1.62m3

Consent in Scotland

View Consent information for Scotland

Extra information: Existing discharges and consent

If you already have Consent to Discharge this will automatically become an environmental permit.  You do not need to re-apply.

If you are discharging 5m3 a day or less from a sewage treatment plant to surface water, you will need register for an exemption, before making a discharge.  If you have already made a discharge, you need to register as soon as possible.


If you are already discharging or intending to discharge 2m3 a day or less from a sewage treatment plant to groundwater, you will need to register your discharge by 1st January 2012.

Go to information on exemptions

Go to information on Permits

*The above information has been cited from the Environment Agency website and is intended as a guideline only.  Significant pieces of information relating to discharges from sewage treatment plants only are included on this page.  For full information please contact your local EA or visit their website.  Please note that it is your responsibility to check with the Environment Agency whether you need to obtain a Permit to Discharge


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