The Groundwater Regulations 1998

Explanatory Note

(This note is not part of the Regulations)

These Regulations complete the implementation of the Groundwater Directive (Council Directive 80/68/EEC) for England, Wales and Scotland. They supplement regulation 15 of the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 and existing water pollution legislation.

The Regulations require the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Secretary of State to use their new powers under the Regulations and their existing powers under Part II of the Control of Pollution Act 1974, Part III of the Water Resources Act 1991 and Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to prevent the direct or indirect discharge of list I substances to groundwater and to control pollution resulting from the direct or indirect discharge of list II substances (regulations 3 to 13).

The new powers are conferred by regulations 14 and 18 to 21 which introduce–

(a)a new requirement for an authorisation for the disposal, or tipping for the purposes of disposal, of list I or II substances in cases where a waste management licence under Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is not already required; and

(b)a new procedure for prohibiting or regulating by notice other activities in or on land which pose an indirect threat to groundwater from list I or II substances.

There are exclusions from the Regulations in relation to radioactive substances, domestic effluent from isolated dwellings, small quantities and concentrations of list I or II substances, and activities for which a waste management licence is required (regulation 2). There are also exceptions from the main controls (subject to certain safeguards) in relation to–

(a)discharges to groundwater unsuitable for other uses;

(b)water used for geothermal purposes or pumped out of mines, quarries or civil engineering works; and

(c)artificial recharges of groundwater for management purposes (regulation 4(5) and 12).

The Regulations apply with modifications certain provisions of the Control of Pollution Act 1974, the Water Resources Act 1991, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environment Act 1995 and amend the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 in connection with the new controls (regulations 14 to 17).

Regulation 22 deals with information to be included on water pollution registers. Regulation 23 makes transitional provisions in relation to the new authorisation procedure.

A regulatory impact appraisal in respect of these regulations may be obtained from Water Quality Division (Branch 2), Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Floor 3/G17, Ashdown House, 123 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6DE. A copy has been placed in the library of each of the Houses of Parliament.