Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
This guidance is relevant to you if you clean vehicles. This includes using wheel washes to clean the wheels and undercarriage of vehicles. It is also relevant to you if someone else visits your site to clean vehicles, as it is your responsibility to ensure they do not cause pollution.
If you wash your vehicles at a commercial vehicle wash such as a car wash, this guidance does not apply to you.
Surface run-off from washing areas can contain high levels of pollutants such as:
You must not allow run-off to enter surface water drains, surface waters or ground waters. This will cause pollution and you could be prosecuted.
You should only wash vehicles in defined areas where the wash water and any rainfall run-off can be contained.
If possible, direct the surface run-off from your vehicle washing area to an on-site treatment system. You may be able to reuse the water. This will reduce your water use and your impact on the environment. You can also discharge surface run-off directly to a foul sewer or combined sewer. Contact your water and sewerage company or authority to find out if you need authorisation before you discharge run-off to a sewer. You must comply with any conditions of your authorisation.
Alternatively, you can collect your run-off in a sealed unit and send it to an authorised disposal site. Check that anyone who takes your waste away from your site is a registered waste carrier.
You can use sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) to drain run-off from washing areas. SUDS slow and hold back run-off from a site, so that pollutants can be broken down naturally. In Scotland you must use SUDS to drain run-off from all new built-up areas, such as yards.
See our guidance on sustainable drainage systems for more information.
If you use (abstract) water from surface water or ground waters for cleaning vehicles, you may need an authorisation or licence from your environmental regulator.
Use vehicle washing facilities and equipment that filter and reuse water, or set up a wash water recycling system.
Use trigger-operated spray guns. Make sure they have an automatic water supply cut-off.
Use collection systems to prevent contaminated water entering surface water drains, surface waters or ground waters, or draining onto the land.
Use settlement lagoons or suitable absorbent material such as flocculent to remove suspended solids such as mud and silt. Before using flocculent, contact your water and sewerage company or authority to make sure that you can still discharge to the sewer.
Use catchpots or silt traps on drains, and ensure that they are in place during cleaning. Empty them at regular intervals.
Remove oil, grease, petrol and diesel from wash water by passing it slowly through an appropriately sized oil separator. An oil separator will not work effectively if:
Ensure that any discharge containing detergent cannot run to the oil separator, as this will stop it working.
If you use detergents, use a recycling system with no discharge or ensure that any run-off containing detergents is collected in a sealed unit. Contact your local water and sewerage company or authority for guidance on how to dispose of any of these materials to the foul sewer.
Minimise the amount of cleaning chemicals you use.
If you use detergents, choose biodegradable and phosphate-free products as they are less harmful to the environment.
Only carry out cleaning in a designated impermeable area that is isolated from the surrounding area by a roll-over bund, raised kerb, ramps or stepped access, for example.
Store all cleaning chemicals safely and in an area where you can contain spills. This should be within a secondary containment system (SCS) such as:
See our guidance on chemical storage for more information.
Train all staff to follow your vehicle cleaning procedures. Display details of the procedures in the work area so staff can check them easily.
A new framework for tackling waste has been unveiled by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), focussing on how SEPA will support a circular economy in Scotland.
One Planet Prosperity – A Waste to Resources Framework
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.
What do you think about our new and improved website. We want your feedback on what you like, what you don’t like and ways we can continue to improve the website. Follow the link to complete the very short survey: NetRegs website – User feedback
We have recently updated and improved our guidance on Environmental Management Systems (EMS). You can find the guidance via the Environmental Topics tab or alternatively select the following link Environmental Management Systems (EMS).
NIEA and the CEF have developed a Regulatory Position to promote Sustainable re-use of natural excavated material from Greenfield sites.
The replacements for the PPGs are being developed. Now available GPP 2 Above Ground Oil Storage
SEPA is asking for your views on the proposals for integrated authorisations.
NEW GPP 24 now available: Stables, Kennels and Catteries
NetRegs has been nominated for 3 ENDS Awards with the result being revealed on the 4th of May.
Knowledge development category winners, see the END Awards
Any person intending to alter the use or management of areas of uncultivated or semi-natural land must obtain prior approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
Read more on the DAERA website
View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.
Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland