Groundwater (SMR 2)
| The aim of these rules is to protect groundwater1 by controlling the discharge of potentially harmful and polluting substances.|
A. You must
1. obtain a permit2 from the Environment Agency before carrying out, causing or knowingly permitting the discharge3 of any hazardous substances4 (for example used/waste sheep dip, pesticide washings, solvents, mineral oil and diesel) or non-hazardous pollutants5 (for example sewage, trade effluent, certain biocides).
Certain exclusions6 from the requirement to hold a permit can apply. These may include; accidental and exceptional circumstances, for example pollution resulting from extreme weather events outside of normal bounds of prediction; discharges of pollutants at small quantities and concentrations, for example discharges of disinfectant footbaths for human use and for certain disinfectant footbaths for animal use.
2. meet the conditions of any permit or notice issued by the Environment Agency in relation to the protection of groundwater.
BGS (c) NERC 1998
Groundwater in the Hydrological Cycle
(provided courtesy of the UK Groundwater Forum)
| Further advice and guidance |
The appendix for groundwater (SMR 2) is available on our website at rpa.defra.gov.uk/crosscompliance/appendices
Pollutants include both hazardous substances and non-hazardous pollutants. Take particular care with hazardous substances, they are highly toxic and polluting, and even very small quantities cause serious damage to groundwater and other receptors.
Non-hazardous pollutants are less dangerous but must not be allowed to cause pollution of groundwater. Some non-hazardous pollutants, such as ammonia and nitrates, can be applied to land to realise fertiliser value. This is a legitimate use, not a disposal operation, and does not require a permit, provided applications are not excessive (for example, you meet crop requirements), and you do not cause pollution. You should contact the Environment Agency if you are unsure.
For further information on groundwater visit the ‘Water’ section of the Environment Agency website (under Business & Industry > Environmental topics) at www.environment-agency.gov.uk
How to comply with your environmental permit (EPR 1.00) guidance produced by the Environment Agency which contains both technical guidance, guidance on complying with permit conditions and describes the basic standards and measures that standard permit holders need to know. Section 5 deals with groundwater activities.
How to comply with your Environmental Permit for Water Discharge and Groundwater (from point source) Activity Permits (EPR 7.01) provides additional guidance from the Environment Agency on groundwater activities.
Groundwater Protection: Principles and Practice (GP 3) Part 5: Interpreting groundwater activity exclusions provides guidance on when discharges may be allowed without a permit.
Environment Agency: 03708 506 506
1 ‘Groundwater’ means all water below the surface of the ground in the saturation zone, that is, below the water table, and in direct contact with the ground or subsoil.
2 A permit is an environmental permit under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. Permits are only required where discharges meet the definition of a ‘groundwater activity’.
3 This SMR covers all ‘groundwater activity’ discharges. ‘Groundwater activity’ means the discharge ‘directly or indirectly’ of a pollutant to groundwater, any other discharge that might lead to the direct or indirect input of a pollutant to groundwater, an activity in respect of which a notice for an environmental permit has been served or an activity that might lead to a discharge where that activity is carried on as part of an operation of a regulated facility of another class. (Paragraph 3 of Schedule 22 to the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.) More information is available in Section 5 of the How to comply with your environmental permit guidance and the Environment Agency’s website groundwater pages.
4 Further information on ‘hazardous substances’ is available from the cross compliance section of our website at rpa.defra.gov.uk/crosscompliance/appendices, or on the Environment Agency website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk.
5 Further information on ‘non-hazardous pollutants’ is available from the cross compliance section of our website at rpa.defra.gov.uk/crosscompliance/appendices, or on the Environment Agency website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk.
6 Information on exclusions from the need to get a permit are available in the publication Groundwater Protection: Principles and Practice (GP 3) Part 5: Interpreting groundwater activity exclusions.
Text only version
Page published: 11 January 2013