Pollution incidents and environmental damage

Prevent environmental damage from your business activities


If your activities cause an imminent threat of environmental damage under the environmental liability regime you will be committing an offence if you do not:

  • take all practical steps to prevent damage
  • report the details to the enforcing body if the threat remains

To find out who your enforcing body is, see remediating environmental damage.

For example, if you become aware of poorly maintained storage equipment that is at risk of leaking, or is already leaking, and could cause environmental damage, you must take action immediately to stop environmental damage. If your action does not succeed in reducing the risk, you must report it immediately to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

You are committing an offence if you do not report environmental damage or remaining threats of environmental damage. It is also an offence if you do not take action to prevent further damage.

People who may be affected by possible damage may also report the risk to the enforcing body, and ask them to take action.

Your enforcing body may require you to take necessary action to prevent environmental damage, or to prevent further damage. If you do not comply you will be committing an offence.

The enforcing body will issue you with a prevention notice describing the work you need to carry out.

You may need to ask the permission of any other landowners if you need access to their property to carry out the work. The enforcing body can make other landowners provide access.

The enforcing body can do the prevention work themselves and charge you for this if:

  • there is an imminent threat of environmental damage that is considered an emergency and you don't take steps to prevent it
  • you don't comply with a prevention notice
  • the site operator cannot be found