Guidance on applying for and complying with water discharge permits

If you are going to make a discharge to surface water (for example a river, stream, estuary or the sea) or to groundwater (including via an infiltration system) then you may need to apply for an environmental permit to make that discharge.

How to Comply with your Environmental Permit contains general guidance on complying with permit conditions. It describes the standards and measures you must use to control the most common risks of pollution from your activity and how to comply with the conditions of your permit. 

You must read both ‘How to Comply with your Environmental Permit’ and the sector technical guidance “EPR 7.01 How to comply with your Environmental Permit for Water Discharge and Groundwater Activity Permits”. The documents can be found on our Guidance to help you comply with your Environmental Permit pages.

Look at our How to apply for an environmental permit page before you apply, for up-to-date information on the application process.

Horizontal guidance

The purpose of horizontal guidance is to provide information relevant to all sectors regulated under Environmental Permitting Regulations. For example, noise, odour, energy efficiency, or protection of land.

H1 Environmental Risks Assessment

This guidance will help you assess risks to the environment and human health when applying for a bespoke permit under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016. However, this guide does not apply to radioactive substance activities.

The H1 Environmental Risk Assessment framework consists of an overview guide and a set of supporting technical annexes for specific risks. No operator needs to complete all annexes. Everybody must read the overview and then select the appropriate annex or annexes. The documents can be found on our Horizontal Guidance Pages.

Regulatory guidance

Regulatory guidance notes on policy and legal interpretation issues associated with implementing the Environmental Permitting Regulations can be found on our Regulatory Guidance Notes (RGN's) pages.


There is an application charge to cover our costs of determining your permit. There is also an annual charge to cover our costs of maintaining and reviewing your permit, ensuring that you comply with the permit conditions and monitoring the water body that you discharge into.

There is no charge for registering an exempt small sewage discharge.

Updated list of hazardous substances

We’ve published an updated list of hazardous substances on the JAGDAG - Joint Agencies Groundwater Directive Advisory Group section of the UKTAG .

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