Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
Water pollution has damaging effects on the environment, humans, plants and animals. Pollution can occur if your business discharges substances into surface waters or groundwater without prior treatment or by accident, eg after a spill.
Key causes of pollution include:
If you pollute the water environment, you may be committing an offence.
Surface waters and groundwater are protected by a number of licensing regimes that prevent and control pollution from businesses. See the page in this guide on regulation that protects surface water and groundwater.
Point source water pollution occurs where pollution comes from a specific, identifiable source, such as a sewage pipe or factory wastewater pipe.
Diffuse water pollution is caused by various sources, which are often hard to identify. Individual sources may be relatively small, but the combined effect of numerous sources can be damaging. Diffuse pollution has a greater impact on the water environment than any other source of pollution.
In rural areas, sources of diffuse water pollution include:
In urban areas, sources of diffuse water pollution include:
You can prevent diffuse water pollution by:
You can use the NetRegs e-learning tools to get a good overview of key issues. These tools are free to use and cover the essential points of each topic. They might be useful as a refresher course, or to make sure that staff have a good understanding of their environmental responsibilities.
We also have a number relating to diffuse pollution from farming and good practice on construction sites.
All are available at: NetRegs: e-learning tools:
Causes of water pollution
EU review of fluorinated greenhouse gas (“F-gas”) policy and legislation, The EU is carrying out a review of its laws on F-gases, which may have an effect on NI stakeholders.
Guidance on Carrier Bags Charging Legislation in Northern Ireland (from 1 April 2022), DAERA has published guidance on the new Carrier Bags Charging Legislation
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