Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
If you discharge anything other than clean, uncontaminated water you must have a:
Surface waters include rivers, loughs, reservoirs and canals. Groundwater includes all water below the water table.
You can find information on the regulation of water discharges on the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) website:
You can find guidance on groundwater authorisations on the NIEA website:
If you discharge anything to the water environment you may require an authorisation from SEPA - See SEPA: Water - Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR).
CAR has three levels of authorisation:
You must comply with the conditions of your authorisation.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will advise which level of authorisation you need for your activity, and can change the level of authorisation in order to protect the water environment.
If your business discharges trade effluent to a public sewer, you must have a valid trade effluent consent from your water and sewerage company.
Certain low risk surface water discharges are authorised by GBRs. When you carry out an activity and comply with the relevant GBRs, you do not need to contact SEPA or apply for a formal authorisation.
Registrations cover activities which present a low risk individually, but which cumulatively may pose a risk to the water environment. You must provide SEPA with a description of the controlled activity and its location. You must comply with a set of basic rules described in the notification of registration.
Licences cover activities that are regarded as presenting a medium to high risk of impact on the water environment. You will need a water use licence if:
There are two types of licence application - a simple licence or a complex licence. These are based on the scale and level of risk of your activity.
You must identify a 'responsible person' to ensure that your business complies with the conditions of the licence. A responsible person can be an individual, a company or a partnership.
You can find controlled water activity guidance from the SEPA website.
Consents and authorisations you will need
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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