Environmental responsibilities

Does my business need a permit or licence?

You may require a permit or licence if your business poses certain types of environmental risk. For example if your business:

  • collects or transports waste on behalf of others, or transports your own construction or demolition waste, you must register as a waste carrier with your environmental regulator - this is the Environment Agency in England and Wales, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • carries out waste activities such as treating, storing or disposing of other people's waste, you may need an environmental permit or an exemption from your environmental regulator
  • carries out industrial, waste or intensive agricultural activities, or uses hazardous substances such as solvents, you may need an environmental permit or a pollution prevention and control permit from your local authority or environmental regulator
  • allows anything other than clean, uncontaminated water from your premises into watercourses or surface water drains, you must have a discharge consent from your environmental regulator
  • discharges trade effluent into the sewerage system, you must get consent from your water company or water authority
  • takes water from surface water or groundwater, ie not from the mains supply, you may need an abstraction licence from your environmental regulator

This list is not comprehensive. For more information on registering as a waste carrier, see our guide on environmental permits and licences - an overview. You can also use our interactive tool to assess your environmental compliance.

You can contact the Environment Agency Helpline on Tel 03708 506 506.

Businesses in Northern Ireland should contact the NIEA Helpline on Tel 0845 302 0008.

Businesses in Scotland should contact SEPA on Tel 01786 457 700.

Subjects covered in this guide


Environment Agency Helpline

03708 506 506


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Developed with:
Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Environment Agency