UK Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) data sets

How to query UK data on waste transfers and emissions, by specific substance, area, river basin, industry or economic sector.


Pollutants are defined as ‘substances that may be harmful to the environment or to human health on account of their properties and their introduction into the environment’.

Pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs) are inventories of pollution from industrial sites and other sources. A PRTR is a national or regional environmental database or inventory of potentially hazardous chemical substances and/or pollutants released to air, water and soil and transferred off-site for treatment or disposal. Annex I of the European Union Regulation on PRTRs specifies which activities need to report. In some cases, these activities are further sub-divided.

The industrial or business facilities quantify and report the amounts of substances released to each environmental medium (air, water, soil) or transferred off-site for waste management or wastewater treatment.

The 2003 Kiev Protocol on PRTRs requires parties to the agreement to make this information publicly accessible.

Information shown in the PRTR data sets

Displayed data includes:

  • facility, including the facility’s parent company where applicable, and its geographical location, including the river basin
  • activity
  • pollutant or waste, as appropriate
  • each environmental medium (air, water, land) into which the pollutant is released
  • off-site transfers of waste and their destination, as appropriate
  • off-site transfers of pollutants in waste water
  • period trends (time series) displayed using graphs

Features include:

  • view current and previous records for each pollutant release using the time series feature
  • view records of each release from each activity/all activities
  • view each site’s release and transfer record and use graphs to assess trends
  • view release and transfer trends in graphs from 2007
  • interactively access data and view facility location using Google Earth (needs Google Earth application)
  • compare release and transfer data from 2007
  • compare release information using river basin districts and area
  • view the destination of hazardous waste transferred out of the UK
  • view waste data from industrial activities in graphs and tables
  • download data in complete blocks, for example, by using activity headings with supporting facility level information

Publication of datasets

Defra aims to publish data approximately one year after the end of the calendar year under report. For example, data for the 2013 report cycle is likely to be available by the end of 2014 and in that order for subsequent years.

Reliability and validity

PRTR data is provided by operators who submit their annual emission and waste data to the appropriate regulator. A number of quality checks are built into the data collection and reporting processes. These include cross referencing information contained in permits with operator-reported PRTR data, using information from inspections and monitoring regimes to validate reported data, scrutinising and validating data from each operator for omissions, errors and/or incomplete information. Nonetheless, quality assurance is an ongoing exercise and is kept under regular review.

The PRTR regulation places the responsibility for data collection on the operator. The operator has a legal responsibility to monitor substances that are released during the course of operation of an installation using a variety of methods as specified in the operating permit and sector guidance. These are then reported to the regulators who compile and check the information before it is published online.

The EU’s PRTR regulation and the UN ECE PRTR protocol specify which industrial activities are included for reporting purposes and their associated thresholds. This means that an installation whose details are not shown on the site have not reached the stated thresholds and therefore do not have to be included. Also, for installations shown but where the threshold for reporting for a pollutant is not reached or where there has been no release, no data for the pollutant will be shown.

Search the PRTR database on your chosen parameters

The database lists data on 91 pollutants, such as amount released, when and where, based on reports from facilities that have reached the required threshold for inclusion. The search tool lets you perform queries on this data including:

You can also search for time comparisons of:

Pollutant release data for diffuse sources

The emission of pollutants from the sectors covered by PRTR are typically referred to as ‘point source’ data, because emissions can be tied to a specific facility or site of operation.

Diffuse emissions occur when the source of emission is more difficult to place at a specific geographic location, or where the nature of the activity that generates the emission is scattered amongst multiple small scale sites which are difficult to quantify. A good example of what can be considered diffuse emissions within the UK PRTR will include the following broad emission groups:

  • emissions from road transport vehicles
  • emissions from accidental building and vehicle fires
  • emissions from combustion in domestic grates
  • emissions from bonfires

The National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) website contains data for diffuse sources.

Pollutants and thresholds list

You can check the list of pollutants by name and chemical composition for information about environmental impact, effect on human health and current level of control.

You can switch to the thresholds view to see the different thresholds for reporting against each pollutant with in the UK PRTR.

Methods for obtaining data

The data is calculated (C), estimated (E) or measured (M) by the operator. Data reporting method may also be unspecified (U).

Within the calculated and measured categories, there are sub-categories which each have their own code.

PRTR specific method sub-categories

Method code Method description
C_EMEP Calculation using the UNECE/EMEP Emission Inventory Guidebook
C_ETS Calculation using the guidelines for the monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions under the Emission Trading Scheme.
C_IPCC Calculation using the IPCC Guidelines.
C_MAB Mass balance method which is accepted by the competent authority.
C_NRB National or regional binding calculation methodology prescribed by legal act for the pollutant and facility concerned.
C_OTH Other calculation methodology.
C_PER Calculation methodology already prescribed by the competent authority in a licence or an operating permit for that facility.
C_SSC European-wide sector specific calculation method.
E Estimated.
M_ALT Alternative measurement methodology in accordance with existing CEN/ISO measurement standards.
M_CRM Measurement methodology for the performance of which is demonstrated by means of certified reference materials and accepted by competent authority.
M_ISO Internationally approved CEN or ISO measurement standard.
M_NRB National or regional binding measurement methodology prescribed by legal act for the pollutant and facility concerned.
M_OTH Other measurement methodology.
M_PER Measurement Methodology already prescribed by the competent authority in a licence or an operating permit for that facility
M_SSC European-wide sector specific calculation method.
M_WEIGH Measurement by weighing.
U Unspecified



Published 2 January 2012