Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Preventing environmental damage

Preventing environmental damage

If your activities cause an imminent threat of environmental damage under the environmental liability regime you will be committing an offence if you do not:

  • take all practical steps to prevent damage
  • report the details to the enforcing body if the threat remains.

To find out who your enforcing body is, see the page in this guideline on Remediating environmental damage.

For example, if you become aware of poorly maintained storage equipment that is at risk of leaking, or is already leaking, and could cause environmental damage, you must take action immediately to stop environmental damage. If your action does not succeed in reducing the risk, you must report it immediately:

  • In Northern Ireland to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)
  • In Scotland to SEPA for the water environment or land, NatureScot for protected habitats and species or Marine Scotland for offshore.

You are committing an offence if you do not report environmental damage or remaining threats of environmental damage. It is also an offence if you do not take action to prevent further damage.

People who may be affected by possible damage may also report the risk to the enforcing body, and ask them to take action.

Your enforcing body may require you to take necessary action to prevent environmental damage, or to prevent further damage. If you do not comply you will be committing an offence.

You may need to ask the permission of any other landowners if you need access to their property to carry out the work.

The enforcing body can do the prevention work themselves and charge you for this if:

  • there is an imminent threat of environmental damage, they have advised you that is considered an emergency, and you don't take preventive action
  • you don't comply with a requirement to take preventive action
  • the site operator cannot be found.

Further information

NetRegs: e-learning tools:


Preventing water pollution

Contaminated land

Nature conservation

In this Guideline

What is environmental damage?

Preventing environmental damage

Remediation of environmental damage

Preventing and dealing with environmental pollution: legislation

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