The Environment Agency has relaxed its deadline for upgrading or replacing those tanks which discharge directly to a watercourse. Previously the deadline for compliance was the 1st January 2020, but the EA has now stated that septic tanks discharging to a watercourse must be upgraded "as soon as possible" with owner having plans to carry out the work within a reasonable timescale. The reasonable timescale is typically 12 months.
The Environment Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016, incorporating the General Binding Rules for Small Sewage Discharges states that owners with septic tanks discharging directly into a watercourse or which are sub-standard have to connect to mains sewers where available or install an effective infiltration system to discharge domestic sewage into the ground instead or replacing a septic tank with a powered sewage treatment plant. It is recommended that where there is non-compliant tanks, the owners should continue to upgrade or replace.
It is important to note that when a house is sold, the parties are to ensure that any private septic tank or sewage treatment plant is compliant on the date of transfer.