Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Remediation of environmental damage

Remediation of environmental damage

If you cause environmental damage under the environmental liability regime you may be responsible for remedying the damage. See the page in this guideline: What is environmental damage?

Enforcing bodies

The Environmental Liability Regulations can be enforced by a number of organisations.

In Northern Ireland

Your local council is the enforcing body for damage, or risk of damage, to land. It is also the enforcing body for damage you cause carrying out activities covered by a pollution prevention and control permit it issued.

Contact your local council

The NIEA is the enforcing body for damage, or risk of damage, to land, water and biodiversity.

Contact your environmental regulator

In Scotland

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is the enforcing body for damage or risk of damage, to the water environment or land.

SEPA: Environmental liability regulations

Scottish Natural Heritage is the enforcing body for damage, or risk of damage, to protected species and habitats in the non-marine environment.

SNH: Environmental liability guidance

Marine Scotland is the enforcing body for damage, or risk of damage, to protected species and natural habitats in the marine environment and marine waters.

Scottish Government: Marine Scotland

What you must do

If your activities cause environmental damage you must:

  • take all practical steps to prevent further damage
  • in Northern Ireland report details of the damage to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)
  • in Scotland, report details of the damage to the relevant enforcing body
  • remediate the environmental damage.

People who may be affected by possible damage can also report damage:

  • In Northern Ireland to the NIEA
  • In Scotland to the relevant enforcing body.

Remediation of environmental damage means returning the environment as a whole to the condition it would have been in if the damage had not occurred.

Remediation must include primary remediation, which is work to repair the damaged site itself. If the primary remediation does not fully restore the damaged site then you may also need to carry out compensatory and complementary remediation.

Compensatory remediation is work to offset the loss of natural resources from the time you caused the damage to the time you fully remediate the damaged site.

Complementary remediation is additional work, possibly at another site, if the site you damaged cannot be completely restored. It is carried out to compensate for when primary remediation does not fully restore the damaged site.

Notices for remediation

In Northern Ireland

If the NIEA decides you have caused environmental damage, you must draw up remediation proposals and submit them for approval. If you don't do this the NIEA can issue a remediation notice requiring you to submit remediation proposals. Once the NIEA has decided which remediation proposals should be implemented you must implement them.

In Scotland

If the enforcing body decides you have caused environmental damage, you must draw up remediation proposals and submit them for approval. If you don't do this the enforcing body can issue a requirement for you to submit remediation proposals. Once the enforcing body has decided which remediation proposals should be implemented you must implement them.

Appeals against liability for environmental damage

You can appeal against a requirement to submit remediation proposals within 28 days of it being served on you.

Further information

Northern Ireland: DAERA: Environmental liability

SEPA: Environmental liability guidance

COMAH

Preventing water pollution

Contaminated land

Nature conservation

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Permits

NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms