Here’s what you need to know to stay ahead of the water discharge regulations

Here’s what you need to know to stay ahead of the water discharge regulations
10 April 2018

Is your site expanding? Here’s what you need to know to stay ahead of the water discharge regulations

Site expansion can be an exciting time for a business and one which often involves significant investment.

However, one area that can be easily overlooked is the impact an expansion can have on environmental permits which are currently in place. For water permits, site development can result in potential changes to the nature and size of the discharge and/or new or different treatment methods being required before discharge.

In England and Wales, all wastewater discharges that could potentially damage the environment are regulated under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016. Any new water discharge activities generated as a result of site development and expansion (including as a result of construction activities) could fall under the regulations.

So, even if your site did not previously require a permit or has an existing permit in place covering your current discharges, it is important for you to understand what you need to do to continue to operate legally.

Understanding the regulations - do I need to apply for a new permit?

Applying for an environmental permit for water discharge is an important, but often complex process.

While certain types of water discharge are exempt from the regulations (e.g. dewatering from excavations to surface waters, and small discharges such as septic tanks) all other discharges are covered.

If you are unsure whether your site expansion requires a permit, or if you want more insight into what the regulations mean for your expansion, register up for our complimentary one-hour telephone consultancy surgery and a Ricardo regulatory expert can help to review your responsibilities. Complete the 'Risk assessment checklist' at the side of this page side to register, or contact Peter Mulder at [email protected] 

Ricardo’s experts have supported organisations across the UK’s infrastructure, utilities and transport sectors to comply with environmental regulations and can help identify areas where you could be at risk of non-compliance when planning your expansion.

Our team has extensive experience supporting businesses through the application process and in developing risk assessments for water and wastewater discharges.  

CASE STUDY: Going beyond compliance

A robust risk assessment and options appraisal can deliver more than compliance - it can unlock substantial value for an organisation.   

Recently, Ricardo completed a development option appraisal, comprehensive risk assessment, regulatory engagement and discharge environmental permit application for a development at a leading UK airport. 

Working closely with the airport, we identified a development option that the client had not previously considered, which delivered considerable savings in capital investment.

Ricardo led the consultation with the Environment Agency, with early and inclusive engagement throughout the process with the regulator. The Environment Agency Permitting Officer commented on this as ‘an example best practice’, and no comments were returned by the regulator or the general public during the determination phase. This saw the permit issued two weeks before the end of the 90 day determination period.


In addition, Ricardo recently completed an environmental permit application for the major upgrade of one of the UK’s largest Sewage Treatment Works, as well as for numerous other developments across the country. 

Complete the ‘Risk assessment checklist’ at the side of this page or email [email protected] to register for our no-obligation, complimentary telephone consultancy surgery to review you site expansion.