From Northern Ireland Environment Agency


If you want to discharge any of the following into a waterway or water contained in any underground strata you must have approval from the Department of the Environment (DOE):

  • any trade or sewage effluent
  • any other poisonous, noxious or polluting substance

This doesn’t apply to any discharge which is made from a vessel.

How to apply

To get an application form, contact the Water Management Unit of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

Details of the application must be advertised in the local press. The cost of advertising is the responsibility of the applicant. Guidance on the wording of the advertisement and further instructions will be supplied by DOE.

DOE will consult with a number of bodies during the application process, including:

  • NIEA Natural Heritage Directorate
  • the local district council
  • local NIEA Water Quality field staff
  • Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) Inland Fisheries Division
  • Loughs Agency (for discharges in the Lough Foyle/Carlingford Lough catchments)

You can appeal to the Water Appeals Commission if you don’t agree with the Department’s decision on your application. Details on how to appeal will be included on the covering letter accompanying the decision. 

You must follow all the conditions that DOE attach to your consent. A consent issued under the terms of the Water Order can be reviewed by the Department every 4 years or at the request of the consent holder.

To make a change to your consent, you must contact DOE for the relevant form or information you must provide. You must also notify the DOE if you intend to transfer the consent to another party.

Any consent may be revoked by the Department if no discharge has been made under the consent for a period of 12 months.

Fines and penalties

If you make a discharge any trade or sewage effluent without consent, or breach any condition of a discharge consent, you can get be fined up to £20,000 or be imprisoned for up to 3 months.