Guide

Preventing water pollution

Types of water pollution notice

If your business activities cause a risk of water pollution, or lead to a water pollution incident, you can be given a water pollution notice.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) can issue you with different types of notices to prevent and control water pollution including:

  • works notices
  • enforcement notices
  • prohibition notices
  • prevention notices
  • remediation notices

Water pollution works notice

NIEA can issue you with a water pollution works notice to prevent or clean up surface water or groundwater pollution, including water in the ground both above and below the water table. For example, if a polluting substance is likely to enter surface waters or groundwater you may be required to take precautionary action, such as using a secondary containment system. If you have caused pollution you may have to remove the polluting matter and repair any damage to the environment.

Water pollution enforcement notice

Enforcement notices are similar to water pollution works notices but are used if you have a permit or consent. You may be issued with a water pollution enforcement notice if you have breached, or are likely to breach, the conditions of your permit or consent. The notice sets out what you must do to comply, and the deadlines by which you must take corrective action.

Water pollution prohibition notice

NIEA can issue you with a prohibition notice to stop you from carrying out an activity that might directly or indirectly pollute any waterway or groundwater.

Water pollution prevention notice

If your activities could cause environmental damage to water, land or biodiversity, you must take all practical steps to prevent any damage and, if the threat remains, report it to NIEA. NIEA can issue you with a water pollution prevention notice that requires you to take action to prevent environmental damage.

Water pollution remediation notice

If your activities do cause environmental damage, you must take all practical steps to prevent further damage, report the damage to NIEA and remediate the damage. NIEA can issue you with a remediation notice that requires you to repair the environmental damage within a certain period.

NIEA can serve notices on you to prevent or remedy water pollution if:

  • they think it is likely that you are causing, or will cause, a polluting substance to enter surface waters or groundwater
  • you break the conditions of a discharge consent

If you cause water pollution, NIEA can also remedy the damage itself and charge you for the work.