Do I need to apply for a permit for discharges to surface water and groundwater?

Who needs to register?

Depending on the activity, you may be eligible for a registration. If you cannot meet these requirements you will need to apply for a permit. Go to our Water discharge and groundwater activity exemptions page for more information.

Before you apply

NRW offer a pre-application advice service to help you get your application right first time.  The basic level provides 2 hours of free advice, including information on which forms to complete, guidance, best practice/industry standards and how to identify environmental sensitives.

If you need more in-depth help, we offer bespoke, charged, pre-application advice as part of our discretionary advice service.

Read more about our pre-application permitting and licensing service.

Surface run-off

If the water is clean surface run-off, for example, from a roof, road, pathway or clean hard-standing area, you do not need a permit. You just need to make sure your discharge stays clean and uncontaminated. See more guidance on the Environment Agency's website.

Discharges to a public foul sewer

If you want to discharge to a public foul sewer (or a drain that connects to one) you don’t need an environmental permit, but you should contact your sewerage undertaker, which is usually your local water company.

Is my discharge covered by a low-risk regulatory position statement?

If your discharge complies with the conditions in the following guidance, you do not need an environmental permit:

Temporary water discharges from excavations Please note, we apply the guidance for England (provided on the website) to Wales.

Apply for a permit

If you want to make a discharge to surface water or groundwater and none of the above applies to you then you will need an environmental permit.  We offer standard rule and bespoke permits.

Go to our ‘apply for a new standard rules permit’ page to see if you can meet the requirements of the rules.  If you cannot comply with any of the standard rules, you must ‘apply for a new bespoke permit’.

To change an existing permit, go to ‘change (vary) an existing permit’.  To transfer ownership to a new holder, go to ‘transfer your permit’. You can also 'surrender your permit'.

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