Water pollution—legislation
Water pollution—legislation

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

  • Water pollution—legislation
  • Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016—pollution offence and environmental permits
  • Water Resources Act 1991
  • Part 2: Water Resource Management
  • Part 3: Control of Pollution of Water Resources
  • Part 7: Land and Works Powers
  • Part 8: Information Provisions
  • 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
  • More...

Water pollution—legislation

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.

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The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations (EPR 2010), SI 2010/675 repealed the main water pollution offence contained in the Water Resources Act 1991 (WRA 1991), s 85 and revoked the Groundwater (England and Wales) Regulations 2009,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are now found in the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 (EPR 2016), SI 2016/1154 which repealed and replaced EPR 2010 on 1 January 2017.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 any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter, waste matter, trade effluent or sewage effluent to surface water (water discharge activity), or

  3. cause or knowingly permit the discharge of a pollutant or other discharge that might lead to the input of a pollutant to groundwater (groundwater activity)

unless in accordance with an environment permit or if the discharge is exempt.

A person who breaches the prohibition on unauthorised water discharge activities or groundwater activities commits an offence punishable:

  1. on

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