Water pollution—legislation
Water pollution—legislation

The following Environment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Water pollution—legislation
  • Brexit impact
  • Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016—pollution offence and environmental permits
  • Water Resources Act 1991
  • Water Industry Act 1991: trade effluent consents and agreements for discharges to sewers
  • Nitrates Pollution Prevention Regulations
  • Reduction and Prevention of Agricultural Diffuse Pollution (England) Regulations 2018
  • Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975
  • European water Directives
  • Environmental Damage Regulations
  • more

Discharges of pollutants to surface water, groundwater or public sewer generally require an environmental permit or consent. This Practice Note looks at the key legislation in England and Wales for controlling and preventing water pollution and the associated offences.

Brexit impact

As of exit day (31 January 2020), the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this content.

For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—impact on environmental law and News Analysis: Brexit Bulletin—key updates, research tips and resources.

Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016—pollution offence and environmental permits

The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations (EPR 2010), SI 2010/675 repealed the main water pollution offence contained in the Water Resources Act 1991 (WRA 1991), s 85 and revoked the Groundwater (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, SI 2009/2902. These offences are now found in the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 (EPR 2016), SI 2016/1154 which repealed and replaced EPR 2010 on 1 January 2017. If offences were committed before 1 January 2017 they can be prosecuted under EPR 2010.

It is an offence under reg 38 of EPR 2016 to:

  1. operate a regulated facility

  2. cause or knowingly permit the discharge of