DrainChecker Blog

Soakaway Regulations – What Are They?

Have you got a property far away from a public sewer or watercourse? Then you might have heard of/be using a soakaway. Soakaways are a traditional surface water drainage system usually created by digging large square or circular pits in the ground, then filling them with rubble, or lining them with dry jointed masonry or perforated concrete ring units. The idea of a soakaway is that it can collect excess rainwater that has run-off from roofs and other surfaces, allowing this water to disperse into the surrounding soil.


There are strict soakaway regulations set out by the Environment Agency and any soakaway must meet these criteria:

  • A soakaway should not be within 2 metres of a neighbouring boundary
  • A soakaway must be at least 10 metres away from any watercourse
  • A soakaway must be 15 metres away from any house or building
  • A soakaway must be at least 50 metres away from any water source (e.g. reservoir/well)
  • A soakaway must not be near any driveways, access roads or paved areas
  • A soakaway must have sufficient storage to allow all the water to absorb before overflowing
  • A soakaway should not be built in any area where ground stability is a problem, where there is contaminated soil or near a landfill site
  • A soakaway should ideally be located 10 metres from a drainage field
  • A soakaway should not be built in an area where the water table is less than 1 metre below the base of the soakaway

In addition to this
, as of 1st January 2015, the General Binding Rules for small sewage discharges came into effect. These rules mean that all legal responsibility of a soakaway now lies with the homeowner – so if you’re off grid, you need to know the what’s and whys of the new soakaway building regs.

These restrictions come into force for all soakaways, so if you are installing a new foul soakaway or drainage field, then you’ll need to your local planning office know. BUT if you are replacing a soakaway which is already in place; then you will generally not need planning permission.


If you need any help understandings the dos and don’ts, hows and whys of soakaways, get in touch with us here at Happy Drains as we’ll be happy to help.