Last reviewed 9 March 2022

The Environment Agency has updated its guidance on how to carry out a risk assessment when applying for a bespoke permit that includes discharging hazardous chemicals and elements to surface water.

Screening tests must be carried out for any action that:

  • takes water from groundwater and discharges it to surface water

  • uses the water in a process which concentrates the existing pollutants before it is discharged, for example water which is used for cooling and therefore partially evaporates

  • keeps the water before it is discharged and where the quality of river is made worse than it’s quality when the water was taken.

Applicants are required to carry out additional screening for all priority hazardous pollutants for freshwaters and priority hazardous pollutants for coastal waters and estuaries. The priority hazardous pollutants are listed in the following tables:

Applicants must determine whether the annual limit of pollutants they discharge is more than the significant load limit (an annual load limit that has been set for priority hazardous pollutants).

The full guidance is available at