Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
Pollution incidents include spills, leaks and accidents which could cause environmental damage.
You can avoid causing pollution by having a pollution incident response plan, showing what you would do if there was an incident.
You must have a pollution incident response plan if you carry out hazardous processes or store hazardous substances on your site. However, it is good practice for all retail and wholesale businesses to have some kind of plan in case there is an emergency.
A pollution incident is any unauthorised discharge to land, air or water that could cause environmental damage.
Examples of pollution incidents at retail and wholesale businesses include:
A pollution incident response plan is a short document that outlines the actions your business will take to minimise the pollution caused by an incident.
Your plan doesn't have to be complicated. The level of risk should influence the size, complexity and details of your plan.
Most businesses aren't legally required to have a pollution incident response plan, but it will help you prevent a pollution incident occurring at your site.
If there is a pollution incident on your site the clean-up costs can be expensive, particularly if you contaminate groundwater. You could be committing a criminal offence, may have to pay compensation and your reputation may suffer.
See our guidance GPP 21: pollution incident response planning.
Examples of retail and wholesale businesses that might need a pollution incident response plan include:
Displaying a pollution incident response plan shows your staff and customers that you are acting responsibly and that you care about protecting the environment from pollution.
You should include:
List 24-hour contact details for people and organisations that may need to be involved during or after a pollution incident. For example:
You should include:
Include a detailed site plan that shows areas vulnerable to pollution, including the locations of storage and delivery areas, any other areas that could cause pollution, and locations of surface watercourses or culverts that could be affected by a pollution incident.
List the types of fuel, oils, gases and chemicals you store on your site. Include estimates of how much of these you normally keep on site to help the emergency services in an incident. Attach product data sheets and COSHH (control of substances hazardous to health) assessments for any substances that pose a risk to people or the environment.
Once you have identified possible sources of pollution, you can take action to reduce the likelihood of an incident.
See our guidance on water pollution.
Your plan should describe the actions to take in the event of an incident and who is responsible for them. The actions that you need to take will depend on your business activities.
The plan should contain details of how to:
View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.