Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Notices that prevent and control water pollution

Notices that prevent and control water pollution

There are different notices that can be issued to prevent and control water pollution in Northern Ireland and Scotland. These are listed below in separate sections.

In Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) can issue you with various notices to prevent and control water pollution including:

  • works notices
  • enforcement notices
  • prohibition notices
  • prevention notices
  • remediation notices

The NIEA can issue you with a works notice to prevent or clean up surface water or groundwater pollution, including water in the ground both above and below the water table. For example, if a polluting substance is likely to enter surface waters or groundwater you may be required to take precautionary action, such as using a secondary containment system. If you have caused pollution you may have to remove the polluting matter and repair any damage to the environment.

Enforcement notices are similar to works notices but are used if you have a permit or consent. You may be issued with an enforcement notice if you have breached, or are likely to breach, the conditions of your permit or consent. The notice sets out what you must do to comply and the deadlines by which you must take corrective action.

The NIEA can issue you with a prohibition notice to stop you from carrying out an activity that might directly or indirectly pollute any waterway or groundwater.

If your activities could cause environmental damage to water, land or biodiversity, you must take all practical steps to prevent any damage and, if the threat remains, report it to the NIEA. The NIEA can issue you with a prevention notice that requires you to take action to prevent environmental damage. See the page on preventing environmental damage in our guideline: Environmental damage.

DAERA has produced a handbook is for landowners and people and organisations involved in carrying out activities that may alter the physical characteristics or flows of rivers and other waterbodies. The activities covered include dredging and substrate addition, removal of bankside vegetation, bed and bank reinforcements, flow manipulation and culverting.

DAERA: Surface Waters Alterations Handbook

If your activities do cause environmental damage, you must take all practical steps to prevent further damage, report the damage to the NIEA and remediate the damage. The NIEA can issue you with a remediation notice that requires you to repair the environmental damage within a certain period. See the page on remediating environmental damage in our guideline: Environmental damage.

The NIEA can serve notices on you to prevent or remedy water pollution if:

  • they think it is likely that you are causing, or will cause, a polluting substance to enter surface waters or groundwater
  • you break the conditions of a discharge consent.

If you cause pollution, the NIEA can also remedy the damage itself and charge you for the work.

For further information relating to groundwater, go to the pages on the DAERA website.

In Scotland

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has enforcement powers to prevent and control water pollution.

SEPA can issue you with an enforcement notice to:

  • prevent water pollution, eg if a substance is likely to pollute water you may be required to take precautionary action, such as using a secondary containment system
  • require you to clean up any pollution or environmental damage you have caused
  • require you to comply with the conditions of a permit, licence or consent
  • stop you from carrying out an activity that might directly or indirectly pollute groundwater.

If your activities could cause environmental damage, you must take all practical steps to prevent damage and, if the threat remains, report it to the enforcing body.

If your activities do cause environmental damage, you must:

  • take all practical steps to prevent further damage
  • report the damage to the enforcing body
  • remediate (clean up) the damage

See our guideline: Environmental damage.

If you cause pollution, SEPA can also remedy the damage itself and charge you for the work.

In this Guideline

Causes of water pollution

Regulation that protects surface water and groundwater in Northern Ireland

Regulation that protects surface water and groundwater in Scotland

Consents and authorisations you will need

Notices that prevent and control water pollution

Practical ways you can prevent water pollution

Drainage system requirements to avoid pollution

Water pollution legislation

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Permits

NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms