Septic Tanks and Consent to Discharge

September 10, 2015

Under the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 permission must be granted by the Department of the Environment for all domestic and non domestic septic tanks which are not connected to the public sewer. This is so that the DOE can monitor and keep a register denoting whether the discharge is passing into rivers or being absorbed by the underground stratum. In some cases land owners will require easements should the soak ways in connection with the septic tank tranverse into neighbouring land. Under The Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 it is illegal not to have a Consent to Discharge and you should contact a solicitor or NI Water in order to make an application to obtain one or to enquire if one is already on place. Failure to obtain Consent to Discharge could result in a large fine or prison term. Once obtained consents can be transferred to any potential buyers should you wish to sell your property. Please note however that the seller is responsible for notifying the DOE of the transfer within 21 days of the completion date.

A general condition to the consent being granted is that the septic tank must be desludged every 12 months. Furthermore, maintenance of the septic tank and pipework are the responsibility of the owner of the consent (It would be advisable however to check your septic tank more regularly than the consent requires.) Maintenance is vital to prevent leaks or spillages especially where the pipework crosses through neighbouring land. Failure to do so may lead to a claim for damages from the land owner.

For more information please visit the NIEA website or contact Lorraine Tierney, Cleaver Fulton Rankin.

Please note; the content of this article is for information purposes only and further advice should be sought from a professional legal advisor before any action is taken.

Please contact Cleaver Fulton Rankin on 028 9024 3141 or alternatively visit