Discharges to Controlled Waters
- Consent Needed and How to Obtain It
- Performance Standards
- Sampling/Monitoring Requirements
- Reporting Requirements
- Non Compliance
- Renewal and Variation
- Pending Legislation
The discharge of any non IPPC emission to controlled waters (see the Performance Standards tab) requires a Consent to Discharge from the appropriate regulatory agency:
If the discharge is to be made into a “Main River” body, permission is also required.
|Types of Discharge which Require Authorisation:||
Any liquid discharges which are liable to be contaminated should be discharged to sewer, or discussed with the relevant Agency with a view to authorisation to discharge to controlled waters (see the Performance Standards tab). Above certain minimum limits, discharges of the following types may require authorisation:
More information on Discharges to Sewer is available here.
|How to Apply for it:||
Application for a Consent to Discharge must be made in writing to the regulatory authority (SEPA/EA). Completed forms must be submitted to the local SEPA/EA office for approval.
Application forms for discharges to controlled water in Scotland can be obtained from the SEPA website. Guidance and application forms for consent to discharge to controlled water in England and Wales is available from the Environment Agency website.
|Information Required in a Consent Application:||
The following information will be required in any consent application to SEPA or the EA:
|When to Apply:||
SEPA and the EA are required to make a decision on an application within four months of receiving the application.
Controlled waters are defined as virtually all freshwater including relevant territorial waters (extending 3 miles seawards from baseline), coastal waters (water inland of baseline), inland waters, surface water, public supply reservoirs and groundwater.
The consent is likely to detail the allowable discharge rate(s) and volumes(s), and the periods during which discharges can be made.
In addition, the consent is likely to include discharge standards for: suspended solids, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), pH, temperature and concentration of hydrocarbons.
|Sampling and Monitoring Requirements:||
Monitoring and sampling is undertaken by the operator of a facility and the requirements are case specific as outlined in each individual consent. They are however likely to include the following:
|What to Report:||
Exact reporting requirements will be specified in each consent including timescales for forwarding information to SEPA or the EA (e.g. monthly averages, monthly maximum concentrations and levels of exceedance).
In addition the Log book must be kept available for inspection at all times.
|Who to report to:||SEPA/EA.|
|When to Report:||Reporting timescale will be specified in the consent.|
|Environment Agency: Civil Sanctions:||On 4 January 2011, the Environment Agency will begin using new civil sanctions to take action that is proportionate to the offence and the offender, and reflect the fact that most offences committed by businesses are unintentional.|
It is an offence to cause pollution of controlled water, deliberately or accidentally, and the agencies (SEPA/EA) can prosecute offenders.
It is also an offence to contravene a consent to discharge condition and the agencies (SEPA/EA) can serve Enforcement Notice on the holder of the consent. It is a further offence to fail to comply with an enforcement notice.
Failure to comply with a consent to discharge is an offence subject to a fine not exceeding £20,000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding three months at the Magistrates Court and an unlimited fine or prison sentence of up to two years at the Crown Court.
|What to do in Breach of a Consent:||Inform SEPA or the EA immediately.|
|Renewal and Variation:||Any changes to discharge requirements will require a new application for Consent to Discharge.|
|Water Framework Directive:||
The EU Water Framework Directive is enabled in the UK through the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003.
Work is now ongoing with respect to detailed implementation in the UK. New proposed control regimes include:
Control regimes must be in place by December 2009 and operational by December 2012. However, it is anticipated that new measures will be phased in over a longer time period, allowing sufficient time for planning to meet the conditions by 2012. New regimes are expected to be phased in over two years from April 2005. This will include the transfer of existing consents.
|Environmental Permitting Programme (EPP2):||
The second phase of the ‘Environmental Permitting’ Programme (EPP2) is now being consulted on. EPP2 aims to reduce costs for operators and the regulator by cutting unnecessary red tape, while continuing to protect the environment and human health. The proposal is to create a common system of risk-based environmental permitting including:
See DEFRA consultation on Environmental Permitting Programme.
|Proposals for an Integrated Framework of Environmental Regulation:||
The proposals outlined by SEPA will deliver a simpler legislative framework which will enable SEPA to focus its greatest effort on the environmental problems that matter most. It will provide a more consistent range of enforcement tools so that, proportionate and effective action can be taken against those who would damage the environment. The consultation that has been undertaken is built on previous consultations focusing on changes to the structure of environmental protection legislation in order to create a new, integrated framework for the permissions (licences, permits, rules, etc.) which will be used to control activities which could harm the environment.