This page provides links to the full text of key pieces of environmental legislation relating to water pollution. The websites hosting the legislation may list amendments separately.

If you are setting up an environmental management system (EMS) for your business, you can use this list to start compiling your legal register. Your legal adviser or environmental consultant will be able to tell you if other environmental legislation applies to your specific business.

Environmental management systems and environmental reports

Northern Ireland

Anti-Pollution Works Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2003/7. Anti-pollution works notices, how to appeal and claim compensation for access rights in connection with anti-pollution works.

Control of Pollution (Applications and Registers) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2001/284 . Procedures for applying or varying consents, including advertising applications and details for the water pollution control register.

Environmental Protection (Microbeads) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2018 SR 18

These Regulations prohibit the use of microbeads as an ingredient in the manufacture of rinse-off personal care products and the sale of any such products containing microbeads. The regulations came into operation on 11 March 2019. 

Environmental Liability (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2009/252. Rules to force polluters to prevent and repair damage to water systems, land quality, species and their habitats and protected sites.

Groundwater Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2009/254 (as amended). Introduces classification systems in line with EU developments, makes it an offence to discharge listed substances without an authorisation, controls issuing and reviewing authorisations and consents. Covers enforcement, codes of practice and penalties.

Water (Northern Ireland) Order SR 1999/662. Makes provision for discharge consents.

Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 SR81

Revokes and replaces the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations 2003. They transpose the Water Framework Directive.  The Regulations will continue to provide for the monitoring, assessment and improvement of the condition of water bodies in order to meet the objectives of the Water Framework Directive.


Water Framework Directive (Classification, Priority Substances and Shellfish Waters) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2015 SR 351

Transpose Directive 2013/39/EU which revised environmental standards for some priority substances and added a further twelve additional substances to the list of priority substances introduced by the original Priority Substances Directive (2008/105/EC). Consolidate all the current legislation which set out the Water Framework Classification Schemes.


The Water Environment (Miscellaneous) (Scotland) Regulations 2017

The Regulations amend existing general binding rules (GBRs) 3, 9 to 13, 15, 17 to 20, 23 and 24, and inserts new GBRs 25 to 28. Consolidate the oil storage regulations into the Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR) and extend them to include storage in depots for the onward distribution of oil.

Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2011/209. Replaces 2005/348 (as amended). Increases the transparency and efficiency of processing applications for water use licences, and introduces greater flexibility to deal with emergency situations where there are imminent risks of serious harm to people, property or the environment.

The Environment and Trade in Animals and Related Products (EU Exit) (Scotland) (Miscellaneous Amendment) Regulations 2022 These Regulations make changes to Scottish legislation, as a result of the EU Exit, relating to the water environment, flood risk management, noise pollution control, air quality and animal health. 

The Water Environment (Controlled Activities)(Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2013These regulations amend the rules governing a number of activities that affect the water environment, including works close to or in watercourses, certain agricultural activities and the storage and use of pesticides.

The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 The amendments incorporate the Control of Pollution (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) (Scotland) Regulations 2003 (“SSAFO”) into the Regulations and introduce some new measures, with the aim of protecting the water environment.

The Water Environment (River Basin Management Planning etc.) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2015Amends the river basin management planning regulations and the Water Environment Controlled Activities (Scotland) Regulations 2011 to take account of Directive 2013/39/EU, 2014/80/EU relating to water quality standards and priority substances. Revokes the Water Environment (Groundwater and Priority Substances) (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2009/420

Environmental Liability (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2009/266. Rules to force polluters to prevent and repair damage to water systems, land quality, species and their habitats and protected sites

Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003. Establishes public authorities' power and duty to protect the water environment, regulate potential polluting activities and manage river basins.

Water Environment (Diffuse Pollution) (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2008/54. Controls diffuse pollution from fertiliser, livestock, land cultivation, drainage system run-off, pesticides and sheep dip.

Further information

Pollution prevention guidelines (PPGs)

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