Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
If you take or store surface water or groundwater from any source, you are abstracting or impounding water. These activities are controlled through three levels of authorisation, according to the degree of risk to the water environment:
You must comply with GBRs if you abstract:
You do not need to contact the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), but you must comply with the rules specific to your activity.
See The Water Environment (Miscellaneous) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 guidance page for information on the GBRs.
You must register with SEPA if you want to abstract:
Discounts are available if you apply online.
If you abstract between 50m³ and 2,000m³ per day, you will need a simple licence. If you abstract more than 2,000m³ per day you will need a complex licence.
You will have to pay for your licence when you submit your application.
You will need to apply to SEPA for your licence. If there is a high environmental risk to the water environment, your water use licence will set out specific controls for the site.
If you carry out impoundment activities you must have a licence from SEPA. However, you can continue to operate weirs that existed before 1 April 2006 and where the sole purpose is to raise the water level upstream, as long as:
You should already have a water use licence from SEPA for all other existing weirs and before you build any new weirs or dams.
You should also take steps to secure efficient and sustainable water use. See the page in this guideline: Tips for saving water.
If you have a reservoir that is capable of holding more than 25,000m³ of water above natural ground level, you must register it with SEPA. You must also appoint a panel engineer to supervise and inspect it.
Water use authorisations in Scotland
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