The website for the UK Sewage and Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) states that a soakaway is intended for “wastewater from a soakaway or small sewage treatment plant.” The nature of a septic tank prevents any chemicals from being introduced into a soakaway, and it may take several months for the untreated wastewater contained within the soakaway to become fully treated.

Soakaways are frequently utilised in locations that do not have access to mains drainage or in locations where the cost of connecting to one would be extremely high. In these kinds of situations, homes have septic tanks. In order for a septic tank to function properly, wastewater from a home’s sinks, bathtubs, showers, and toilets must be able to drain into an underground concrete box with perforated walls referred to as “soakaways.” These “soakaways” enable the waste to be broken down and treated by bacteria that occur naturally in the environment. This waste is then discharged from the septic tank. In a septic tank, just as with a soakaway, it is forbidden to introduce any chemicals, and it may take several months for the wastewater that is contained within the septic tank to become completely treated.

Even though septic tanks and soakaways are both utilized in areas that lack access to mains drainage, this does not imply that the two systems are interchangeable or indistinguishable from one another. In situations like these, if a soakaway were to be emptied of its contents using pumping equipment by a person who was not a registered waste carrier or an authorized person, this would be considered an illegal treatment of controlled waste in accordance with Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1990. (EPA 1990).


An individual is subject to an unlimited fine and/or up to 12 months in prison if they are found guilty of violating Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 (EPA 1990). In contrast, in accordance with subsection 34(1) of the Environmental Protection Act of 1990, the court may instead decide to levy a fine of 50,000 pounds if it is convinced that the violation was not committed on purpose.

If a person were to illegally introduce waste into the soakaway without the necessary authority by unblocking it and allowing all of its contents to drain away (or be pumped out), that person would have unlawfully deposited controlled waste on land without a waste management license, which is in violation of Regulation 33(1)(a)(ii) of The Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012. These regulations were passed in 2012 and are in accordance with the Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulation

If found guilty, a person could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a fine of up to an unlimited amount if they violated Section 33(2) of the Environmental Protection Act of 1990. In the event that the court is persuaded that the offense was not committed on purpose, they may instead decide to impose a fine in the amount of £50,000.

If a person were to pump out and remove the contents of a soakaway without first notifying Sepa and obtaining the necessary authority, they would be in violation of Regulation 33(1)(b) of the Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 because they would be removing the waste of other people. This regulation was introduced in 2012.

If found guilty, a person could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a fine of up to an unlimited amount if they violated Section 33(2) of the Environmental Protection Act of 1990. In the event that the court is persuaded that the offence was not committed on purpose, they may instead decide to impose a fine in the amount of £50,000.

A person commits an offence under Section 33(3) of the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 if they install a soakaway or fail to remove one while they are cleaning or maintaining a septic tank within 200 meters of it. If convicted, a person faces an unlimited fine and/or up to five years in prison.

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