Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
If your business causes a nuisance to your neighbours, your local council can require you to take steps to reduce or stop the nuisance, or impose restrictions on or stop your operations.
Nuisances from parking areas could include:
You should control these potential sources of nuisance.
Surface water run-off from car parks can cause erosion, pollution and even localised flooding. Run-off may contain pollutants such as:
You can discharge surface water run-off to surface water drains or watercourses without a consent or agreement from your water and sewerage company or authority, as long as it is not contaminated. If you want to discharge contaminated water to watercourses you will need permission from your environmental regulator.
If you have a small car park, and you only use it for parking cars, you can discharge surface water run-off directly. However, if you have a larger car park, you should remove oil, grease, petrol and diesel from run-off by passing it through an oil separator before you discharge it. You should also use an oil separator for any run-off from areas used for more polluting activities, such as vehicle servicing.
Alternatively, you can use sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) to drain run-off from car parks. 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 car parks.
You must not allow contaminated run-off to enter surface water drains, watercourses or groundwater. This will cause pollution and you could be prosecuted.
If your surface water run-off is contaminated, you may be able to discharge it to a foul sewer or a public combined sewer. But you will need a consent or agreement from your water and sewerage company or authority.
If you clean vehicles on your car park, you must not allow run-off to enter surface water drains, surface waters or ground waters. If someone else cleans vehicles on your car park, it is your responsibility to ensure that they do not cause pollution. For more information see our guidance on vehicle cleaning.
Use an oil separator in your surface water drains to remove oil, grease, petrol and diesel from surface water run-off.
Use catchpots or silt traps on drains, and ensure that they are in place and working effectively during cleaning. Empty them at regular intervals.
Use SUDS to control surface water run-off from your car parking areas.
Encourage staff and visitors to use public transport or car share.
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