Groundwater and Control Water Legislation

Directive 2000/60/EC establishing a framework for community action in the field of water policy The Water Framework Directive (WFD), which came into force on 22 December 2000, is the most substantial piece of EC water legislation to date. It requires all inland and coastal waters to reach ‘good status’ by 2015. It is aiming to achieve this by establishing a UK river basin district approach within which demanding environmental objectives will be set, including ecological targets for surface waters.  The instruments below are the enabling legislation for the EU Water Framework Directive in Scotland, and England and Wales respectively. They are largely concerned with the development of River Basin Management Plans and enabling new controls on water abstraction, engineering works, point source pollution and diffuse pollution from urban areas and farms including the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 and The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003. These instruments are the enabling legislation for the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) in Scotland, and England and Wales respectively. They are largely concerned with the development of River Basin Management Plans and enable new controls on water abstraction, engineering works, point source pollution and diffuse pollution from urban areas and farms. See Pending Legislation. The Directive repeals older EC Water Directives and incorporates the remaining existing water directives on Bathing Water, Nitrates and Urban Waste Water Treatment.
Directive 2006/118/EC on the protection of groundwater against pollution and deterioration The 2006 Directive, also know as the ‘Groundwater Directive’ established specific measures in order to prevent and control groundwater pollution.  The measures include the assessment of groundwater chemical status, and the identification and reversal of significant and substantial upward trends. Member states must meet groundwater quality standards set out by the directive (for nitrates, pesticides, etc).
Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 These regulations set out the requirements for building control authorisation for the construction of soakaways for sewage discharges and came into force on 1 May 2005.
Contaminated Land (Scotland) Regulations 2000 The Regulations make provision in under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for the remediation of contaminated land. The Regulations identify sites known as ‘special sites’ for which SEPA is to be the enforcing authority. Local authorities are responsible for enforcing the scheme in the case of any other type of site. Guidance is also provided for the content and service of copies of ‘remediation notices’ served by a local authority or SEPA specifying what is to be done by way of remediation and the time limits within which action must be taken. These Regulations came into force on 14 July 2000. The 2000 Regulations provided the circumstances in which contaminated land required designation as a special site, and provide for a remediation regime. The Contaminated Land (Scotland) Regulations 2005 amended previous legislation enabling Scottish Ministers to make regulations for or in connection with regulating any activity for the purposes of protecting “the water environment”.
Control of Pollution (Application, Appeals and Registers) Regulations 1996  Cited as the Control of Pollution (Applications, Appeals and Registers) Regulations 1996 which came into force on 31 December 1996, these Regulations outline the procedures for consents in England and Wales under the Water Resources Act 1991.
Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations SI 2016/475 These Regulations, covering England and Wales only, expand the existing environmental permitting system through integrating regimes covering water discharge consents, groundwater authorisations and radioactive substances and waste batteries. These Regulations came into force on the 6th April 2016.
Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 as amended The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 came into force on 6 April 2010. They provide a consolidated environmental permitting system in England and Wales. They extend the environmental permit system to cover water discharge consents, groundwater authorisations and radioactive substances authorisations. The Regulations also transpose the permitting parts of the batteries Directive into the new system. The intention is to enable businesses and regulators to gradually adopt a one permit, one-regulator, one-site regime. This will reduce costs and cut red tape whilst continuing to protect the environment. This phase is called ‘Environmental Permitting Phase 2 (EPP2); this affects businesses that:

  1. Discharge to rivers, lakes, estuaries or coastal waters, etc.
  2. Discharge substances to groundwater
  3. Use or disposal of radioactive substances or wastes.

Organisations holding a current water discharge consent, groundwater authorisation or radioactive substances authorisation do not have to re-apply. Existing consents or authorisations automatically become environmental permits under the new regulations. A list off amendments to the 2010 Regulations is provided below:

  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2010
  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2011
  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2011
  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012
  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2013
  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2013
  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014
  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2014
  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2015
  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) 2015, came into force on 21 March 2015
  • Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations SI 2016/149, come into force on 13 May 2016.
Fracking (Measurement and Regulation of Impacts) (Air, Water and Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Bill 2015-16 This Bill sets out the requirements of the Secretary of State to measure and regulate the impact of unconventional gas extraction on air and water quality and on greenhouse gas emissions.
Groundwater (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 SR 208 Amended the 2009/254 Regulations in order to transpose in greater detail some provisions of the Groundwater Daughter Directive. These Regulations came into force on 31 July 2014.
Infrastructure Act 2015 (Commencement No.5) Regulations SI 2016/455 These Regulations, which apply to England and Wales only, brought section 50 (onshore hydraulic fracturing: safeguards) of the Infrastructure Act 2015 into force on 6 April 2016 so far as it is not already in force.
Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Protected Areas) Regulations SI 2016/384 These Regulations came into force on 10 March 2016 and apply to England and Wales only. The timing coincides with the section of the Petroleum Act 1998, which relates to safeguards against onshore hydraulic fracturing, coming into force, setting out the areas considered as “protected groundwater source areas” and “other protected areas” for the purposes of the Petroleum Act 1998 and onshore hydraulic fracturing.
Sewerage (Scotland) Act 1968 Discharge to the public sewer in Scotland requires consent under the Sewerage (Scotland) Act 1968 which was introduced that year. Section 1 of the Sewerage (Scotland) Act 1968 and Section 6 of the Water (Scotland) Act 1980 impose obligations on Scottish Water to provide sewerage and water services, respectively, “where it is practicable to do so at reasonable cost”.
The Building Regulations 2010 These Regulations may be cited as the Building Regulations 2010 and came into force on 1 October 2010. As part of these Regulations there is a requirement that an adequate system to carry water used for cooking, washing, toilet, bath or shower to a sewer, cesspool or settlement tank must be in place. These Regulations are applicable to England and Wales only.
The Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 These regulations may be cited as the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and came into operation on 31 October 2012. These Regulations revoke and replace, with amendments, the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 and all subsequent amending Regulations, imposing certain functional or performance requirements in relation to; the construction of any building and to certain services and fittings in conjunction with any building; the structural alteration or extension of any building; and any building undergoing a material change of use.
The Contaminated Land (England) Regulations 2006 Cited as the Contaminated Land (England) Regulations 2006, these Regulations came into force on 4 August 2006, these Regulations, which apply to England only, set out provisions relating to the identification and remediation of contaminated land under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (the 1990 EPA).  The Regulations make provision for an additional description of contaminated land that is required to be designated as a special site, i.e. land which is contaminated land as a result of radioactive substances in, on or under that land.  The Regulations identify categories of ‘special’ sites where the Environment Agency is to be the enforcing authority.  The Regulations clarify ‘remediation notices’ which can be served by a local authority or the Environment Agency specifying what is to be done by way of remediation and the time to be taken for action.
The Contaminated Land (Scotland) Regulations 2005 The purpose of the instrument is to amend Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which was inserted by section 57 of the Environment Act 1995. It also makes amendments to the Contaminated Land (Scotland) Regulations 2000. The amendments included in the 2005 Regulations are mainly operational or technical in nature.
The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 The Oil Storage Regulations, made under the Water Resources Act 1991, require any person having custody or control of oil to take precautions to prevent pollution of any controlled waters for the purposes of Part III of the Water Resources Act. The Regulations apply to oil stored in tanks, bulk containers oil drums and mobile bowsers. The Regulations came into full effect on 1 September 2005 and apply to oil containers of more than 200 litres. The Regulations apply to all oils including: petrol, diesel, central heating oil, lubricating oils, vegetable oil, heavy oils such as bitumen, oils used as solvents, such as paraffin or kerosene, and waste oils. In England the Regulations do not apply to oils stored: in a container situated within a building or wholly under ground; on premises used for refining or distributing oil; on a farm and used exclusively for agricultural purposes; or in any container with a storage capacity of 200 litres or less. Waste oil storage is regulated under the waste legislation, and in most cases is exempt for the Oil Storage Regulations. There are currently no similar regulations in Wales.
The Groundwater (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016 These Regulations amend the Groundwater Regulations (NI) 2009 in order to transpose the provisions of the EU Groundwater Directive 2014/80/EU and came in to force on 20 June 2016.These updates include an amendment to the lead parameter threshold, bringing it in line with the drinking standard set out in Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption
The Groundwater (Water Framework Directive) (England) Direction 2016 Updated directions to the Environment Agency following Directive 2014/80/EU, amending Annex II of the Groundwater Directive (2006/118/EC) have been announced. Updated requirements include: a) the monitoring and setting of thresholds for pollutants in groundwater; b) adding new pollutants to the list of pollutants to be monitored; and c) changing the information to be reported to the European Commission.
The Water Act 2003 Under Section 107 of the Water Act 2003 it is an offence to cause or knowingly permit a discharge of poisonous, noxious or polluting matter into any Controlled Waters without the proper authority. The Act received Royal Assent on 20 November 2003.
The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2013 If an operator intends to carry out any activity which may affect Scotland’s water environment, they must be authorised to do so. These Regulations provide SEPA with the authority to serve (an) enforcement notice(s) either to control or to stop an activity which poses a significant risk to the water environment and/or which may cause discharge to groundwater of any substances listed in the CAR Regulations (Schedules 1 or 2). The 2013 Regulations, which came into force on 1 June 2013 amend the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011.
The Water Environment (Oil Storage) (Scotland) Regulations 2006 The Regulations, enacted under the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003, came in to full effect on the 1 of April 2010 in Scotland. They are underpinned by the same intent as in England. The Scottish Regulations also apply to storage of waste oil and to storage of oil in buildings. There is a requirement in the Scottish Oil Storage Regulations that where oil is stored in a portable container of <200 litres the container must be of sufficient strength and structural integrity that it doesn’t leak in its ordinary use.
The Water Environment (Remedial Measures) (Scotland) Regulations 2016 Laid before the Scottish Parliament on 15th January 2016, these regulations enter into force on 1st April 2016.
The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 This instrument amends certain provisions of the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003 in order to transpose aspects of Directive 2013/39/EU (“the Priority Substances Directive”).
The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003 The 2003 Regulations implement the EC Directive 2000/60/EC (Water Framework Directive) in England and Wales only. The Regulations set out requirements for managing, protecting and improving the quality of water resources through out England and Wales. The Regulations came into force on 2 January 2004.
The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003 These instruments are the enabling legislation for the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) in Scotland, and England and Wales respectively. They are largely concerned with the development of River Basin Management Plans and enable new controls on water abstraction, engineering works, point source pollution and diffuse pollution from urban areas and farms. The Directive repeals older EC Water Directives and incorporates the remaining existing water directives on Bathing Water, Nitrates and Urban Waste Water Treatment. This Regulation came into force on 2 January 2004.  The 2003 Regulations have further been amended by both the 2007 and 2010 Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations.
The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003  The 2003 Regulations implement the EC Directive 2000/60/EC (Water Framework Directive) in Northern Ireland only. The Regulations set out requirements for managing, protecting and improving the quality of water resources in Northern Ireland. The Regulations came into force on 12 January 2004.
The Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002 Introduced the Water Industry Commissioner for Scotland and established Scottish Water to replace the North, South and East of Scotland Water Authorities, the Act received Royal Assent on 1 March 2002.
Urban Waste Water Treatment (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 These regulations, which came into force on 11 August 2003, implement the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC) in England and Wales. They extend the duties of sewerage undertaker, Director general of Water Services and Secretary of State under chapter III, Part IV of the Water Industry Act to control industrial waste water.
Urban Waste Water Treatment (England and Wales) Regulations 1994 These Regulations may be cited as the Urban Waste Water Treatment (England and Wales) Regulations 1994, and came into force on 30 November 1994 and extend to England and Wales only.
Urban Waste Water Treatment (Scotland) Regulations 1994 These regulations implement in Scotland the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC) and came into force on 30 November 1994. They extend duties to Local Authorities and the Secretary of State under Part II of the Sewerage Scotland Act 1968 to control industrial waste water. These Regulations were amended in 2003 by the  Urban Waste Water Treatment (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2003, which came into force on 27 June 2003.
Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 as amended The Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 came into force on 26 November 1997, applying to Northern Ireland only.  the Order sets out the waste management regime covering waste carrier registration and identifying and remedying contaminated land in Northern Ireland.  The has since been amended, with the latest amendment, the Waste and Contaminated Land (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 coming into force on the 10 February 2011.
Water Act 1989  Introduced in 1989, under Section 107 of the Water Act it is an offence to cause or knowingly permit a discharge of poisonous, noxious or polluting matter into any Controlled Waters without the proper authority.
Water and Sewerage Services (2006 Order) (Commencement No.4) Order (Northern Ireland) SR 2016/152 Applying to Northern Ireland only, this Order brought articles 73 and 157 into force on the 11th March 2016, from the ‘Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order SI 2006/3336’ covering, ‘Drought plans: preparation and review’ and ‘Further duty to provide sewers’.
Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 The Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 implements the EC Directive 2000/60/EC (Water Framework Directive) in Scotland only. The Act set out requirements for managing, protecting and improving the quality of water resources throughout Scotland and gave Scottish Ministers the power to do so.  The Act came into force on 5 March 2003.
Water Environment (Remedial Measures) (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2016/19 These Regulations entered into force on 1 April 2016 and allow Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to serve a remedial measures notice on relevant personnel requiring they undertake specified remedial measures.
Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations SI 2015/1623 The purpose of these Regulations is amend the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2003/3242, setting up a strategic planning process to manage, protect and improve the quality of water resources, and river basins in particular, within England and Wales.Laid before Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales on the 24th August 2015, these Regulations came into force on the 14th September 2015 and apply to England and Wales only.
Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations SI 2016/138 These Regulations, which entered into force on the 3 March 2016, amend the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2003/3242 to include shellfish water protected areas ensuring adequate measures are in place to support shellfish populations.
Water Environment (Remedial Measures) (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2016/19 These Regulations entered into force on 1 April 2016 and allow Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to serve a remedial measures notice on relevant personnel requiring they undertake specified remedial measures.
Water Industry Act 1991  Discharge to the public sewer in England and Wales requires consent under the Water Industry Act (WIA) of 1991. Part III of the Act governs the supply of sewage services and provides for the discharge of trade effluent into the public sewer. Under Section 106 of the Act the owner or occupier of any premises is entitled to have his drains or sewer connected to the public sewage system. He is not however entitled to discharge the following directly or indirectly into the public sewer unless specifically consented to do so by the local sewerage undertaker (Scottish Water or equivalent): a) any liquid from a factory, other than domestic sewage or surface or storm water, or any liquid from a manufacturing process, or; b) any liquid of other matter the discharge of which into the public sewers is prohibited by or under and enactment. This Act came into force on 1 December 1991.
Water Industry Act 1999  Although this Act, which was made in June 1999, is largely concerned with water charging it also created the office of the Water Industry Commissioner for England and Wales, with the general function of overseeing the interests of the customers of the water authorities and acting as the authorities’ customer services and economic regulator.
Water Resources (Control of Pollution) (Oil Storage) (Wales) Regulations SI 2016/359 These Regulations came into force on the 15th March 2016 in Wales.  They apply to the storage of more than 200 litres of oil above ground at industrial, commercial or institutional sites.  There are requirements for the storage of such oil, including:

  • Being stored in a container which is of sufficient strength and structural integrity to ensure it doesn’t leak;
  • The installation of the container has not affected its strength or structural integrity; and
  • The container is situated within a secondary containment system that satisfies the specified requirements.
Water Resources (Scotland) Act 2013 The Water Resources (Scotland) Act 2013 came into force on the 9 April 2013, applying in Scotland only.  The Act sets out the Scottish Governments plan for the development of Scotland’s water resources, through improving water quality, the creation of contracts for non-domestic sewerage services, protection of the public sewer network and the maintenance of private sewerage works.
Water (Scotland) Act 1980 Introduced in 1989, under Section 107 of the Water Act it is an offence to cause or knowingly permit a discharge of poisonous, noxious or polluting matter into any Controlled Waters without the proper authority.