Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
You must not discharge silty water to a watercourse as it can cause pollution.
You must treat silty water prior to discharge to ensure that the silt settles out. This requires the use of lagoons, settlement tanks or grassy areas that slow the water down enough for the solids to drop out.
Before you start work, identify and mark out any areas of land you intend to use for sacrificial or temporary surface water drainage measures. This may include temporary settlement ponds or Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).
Design and construct these areas so that they can accommodate the run-off from your work. If this is not considered before you start work it can be difficult to fit it around work that has already begun.
Ensure that any water you discharge over ground does not enter field drainage systems or highway drainage systems. These systems usually lead to streams or watercourses and you will be liable for any resulting pollution.
Clean water that has gathered in the base of an excavation or clean water discharged from a settlement tank can be pumped out over adjacent ground as long as you:
Do not pump water onto areas that have been stripped of vegetation or topsoil as it is likely to pick up high levels of silt. If this water enters a watercourse, it could cause pollution.
CIRIA have produced a document called 'Control of Water Pollution from Construction Sites - Guidance for consultants and contractors C532' (2001) which outlines methods of water control including retention time calculations for settlement lagoons.
Information can also be found in 'Pollution Prevention Guideline (PPG) 6: Working at construction and demolition sites.
Guidance for Pollution Prevention (GPP) 5 contains guidance on measures you can take to avoid causing pollution during building and engineering work.
In Scotland, GBR 10 details the rules relating to discharging water from a surface water drainage system.
From 01 January 2018, GBR 10 has been updated to cover surface water discharge from:
If your site exceeds these thresholds then you will require authorisation from SEPA, see SEPA : Construction site licences..
GBR 10 specifies that all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure pollution does not occur.
The discharge must not:
All parts of the surface water drainage system must be maintained in good working order and repair and steps must be taken to ensure that matter liable to block or obstruct the drainage system is prevented from entering.
Construction specific rules:
Sites operated after 1 April 2007 must be drained to a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) unless the discharge is from a single dwelling or to coastal waters.
All parts of the construction site which began operations on or after 01 June 2018, on which works are to be undertaken or any vehicles are to be operated or parked on, must be drained by a surface water drainage system with the capacity to accommodate the maximum volume of run-off expected to occur from the land during the period of construction.
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.
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
The NetRegs team at SEPA, in partnership with The Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and a number of industry bodies have produced 9 new GPPs to replace out of date PPGs. More are coming! Check the available topics
New guidance for Start-ups, charities and community projects
View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.
Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland