Call for sites - Enhance your Tank Scheme



A partnership comprising Cumberland Council, the Lake District National Park Authority, Westmorland and Furness Council and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are working together to try and address the issue of nutrient neutrality across Cumbria. We have launched the Enhance your Tank scheme to help deliver mitigation solutions to unlock homes affected by nutrient neutrality.

Enhance your Tank Scheme - Guidance Note

What is the problem?

Nutrient Neutrality (NN) was introduced into Cumbria in March 2022. Its purpose is to offset the impacts of new development which can increase the levels of nutrients entering watercourses through surface and foul water. Excess nutrients can cause water pollution which leads to algal growth and eutrophication in our lakes, rivers and streams. This has negative effects on the species living within them.

Nutrient Neutrality restrictions are in place in areas where Habitat Sites are in an unfavourable condition due to nutrient pollution. The following Habitat Sites are in an unfavourable condition due to phosphorus:

  • River Eden SAC
  • River Derwent and Bassenthwaite Lake SAC
  • River Kent SAC
  • Esthwaite Water Ramsar

Developers are required to identify mitigation within the affected catchment area to offset any impacts before their planning application can be approved. Solution need to be upstream of the point where the development discharges into the waterbody.

A significant number of new homes, including affordable housing, are currently held up in the planning system while solutions are being found.

A Partnership has been set up to help identify potential solutions and address the issue; members include Cumberland Council, Lake District National Park and Westmorland and Furness Council amongst others. Identifying solutions will help developers deliver much needed homes across Cumbria.

What is the solution?

  • One mitigation solution is to replace existing inefficient septic tanks and package treatment plants with more efficient systems in order to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the SAC catchment. The replacement system has to be located upstream of the development it mitigates.
  • The aim of this Call for Sites is to identify potential septic tanks and PTPs that can be upgraded within the affected catchments.
  • A septic tank is a primary treatment system in which solids settle to the bottom and decompose whilst the wastewater is discharged into the ground through a drainage field or soakaway. Solid waste is then collected and taken away.
  • PTPs are effective a modern, more efficient septic tank. They require an electrical connection but take up less space, require less emptying and are generally more efficient in terms of removing nutrients from wastewater. They do however need to be maintained as advised by the manufacturer. PTPs can be discharged into soakaways, surface water, groundwater or drainage field.

What is the Enhance your Tank Scheme?

Septic tank and PTP owners are able to submit details of their septic tanks/PTP through an Expression of Interest form. The partnership will then estimate the amount of phosphorous that could be saved through replacing the system and may either:

  • Match the landowner up with an interested developer who is looking for solutions to unlock their development. The developer will then work directly with the landowner. The developer may either pay for the replacement and bank to credits to use for their development or come to an alternative arrangement with the landowner. This route is not reliant upon public funding and is therefore likely to deliver replacements quickly.
  • Work with the landowner and a third-party contractor to replace the system free of charge, where funding becomes available. The Partnership will then “bank” the phosphorous (P) savings as nutrient credits which it will then sell to a developer to allow them to deliver new housing. The number of systems that can be replaced will depend upon the amount of funding available and the Partnership will prioritise those replacements which will generate the highest P savings.

Where the existing system doesn't meet current standards, the baseline figure used in the nutrient calculators will be used when calculating the potential P savings which could be made.

Can Small Scale Discharges be considered?

Where the discharge from the existing septic tank/PTP meets the definition of a small scale discharge unfortunately it cannot be considered for replacement through this scheme. Small scale discharges are those which:

Discharge to the ground - systems that discharge 2 cublic metres or less per day General Binding Rules: Small sewerage discharge to the ground

Discharge to a surface water - systems that discharge 5 cubic metres or less per day General Binding Rules: Small sewerage discharge to surface water

The following simple calculator can be used to find out discharge rates from septic tanks and PTPs linked to domestic properties: Discharge Calculator

How do I get involved?

  • If the existing septic tank/PTP is within an affected catchment, the owner is able to submit an online Expression of Interest form 
  • The Expression of Interest period will close at 5pm on Friday 13th September 2024, all forms should be completed by this date.
  • Hard copies of the form are available on request; if submitting a paper form it must be accompanied by a map clearly showing the location of the system and the site.
  • Please note that submitting an EOI does not commit the owner or any of the partnership local authorities to take any further action and does not enter the parties into any form of agreement.

What happens next?

  • You will be emailed a receipt to confirm that your submission has been received.
  • The partnership will carry out an initial, high level screening assessment.
  • The partnership, taking the owner’s wishes into account, will determine the appropriate next steps from the two options set out above in the “What is the Enhance Your Tank Scheme” section.
  • The partnership will make contact with you to discuss the next steps. Please note that contact may not be made until the end of 2024 depending on the number of submissions we receive and the availability of funding.

What if I need assistance completing the form?

  • For any further information regarding the scheme please contact Leanne Parr, Catchment Nutrients Officer at