Water offences
Water offences

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Water offences
  • Water discharge and groundwater activities
  • False or misleading information
  • Defences contained in the regulations
  • Sentences for water pollution

Water discharge and groundwater activities

Water discharge activities or ground water activities offences are regulated by the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016, (EPR 2016), SI 2016/1154, which, in reg 38(1)(1), create the offence of breaching the regulatory requirements in reg 12(1).

It is also an offence to knowingly cause or knowingly permit the contravention of EPR 2016, SI 2016/1154, reg 12(1)(a).

To cause or knowingly permit a water discharge activity or groundwater activity or to operate a regulated facility, including operate an installation or mobile plant, carrying on a waste operation, mining waste operation, radioactive substances activity, water discharge activity or groundwater activity, except under and to the extent authorised by an environmental permit, is an offence. This offence includes any waste operation carried on without complying with the criteria of a relevant exemption.

The elements of the offence are:

  1. a person

  2. contravenes EPR 2016, SI 2016/1154, reg 12(1), or

  3. knowingly causes or knowingly permits the contravention of reg 12(1)(a)

The prosecution must prove a positive act or omission to make out a charge of knowingly causing water pollution. It is required to prove a causal link between dumping, leaking, overfilling or operating inefficiently and the resultant pollution.

Where there has been an intervening act by a third party, the site owner will still be liable unless the intervening act was such an 'act of god' that the

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