Regulating water discharges

Under the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999, the discharge of trade or sewage waste to any waterway, or any water contained underground requires the consent of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. This includes waste from any commercial, industrial or domestic premises not connected to the public sewer.

What are discharge consents?

Discharge consents include conditions outlining the quality and quantity of waste discharges. These conditions have been drawn up to ensure that the waste can be absorbed by the receiving water without damaging the aquatic environment or breaching national or European Commission (EC) standards. The department maintains registers of discharge consents. These are open to public inspection.

Industrial consents

The Industrial Consents section is made up of a team of professional scientists and administrative staff who deal with new applications for commercial and industrial discharge consents. They assess whether permitted discharges are at acceptable levels, and visit sites to carry out assessments. The results of compliance monitoring are in the public domain.

Domestic consents

A consent to discharge waste from a single domestic property is granted by the department, subject to the recommendations made by the local council’s Environmental Health (Rivers) Officer.

Holding a Consent to Discharge does not confer any legal rights of access, control or ownership for a property. NIEA require a map/plan which shows the location of the proposed treatment system and discharge point where required. This does not necessarily contain the same level of detail or match exactly any plans provided under a planning application or a Land Registry map outlining legal boundaries and we do not cross reference application maps with Planning; Land Registry or any other public bodies. If any proposed infrastructure is outside the boundary of property owned or controlled by the applicant, any easements; wayleaves; rights of way or access arrangements that may be required are the responsibility of the applicant. NIEA do not verify that such arrangements are in place.

Domestic Consents ​Public Register

The Domestic Consent Public Register is now available to search for domestic consent details online. All domestic consents and maps for consents granted from 1992 to present are available to download: Domestic Consent Public Register

Applying for Domestic Consent

Apply and pay for your Domestic Consent or Transfer of Ownership online.

NIEA has an online application process for domestic consents. Please use link below to apply for your domestic consent to discharge:

Paper applications received will be returned to the applicant.

The first time you use the system you will need to create a Government Gateway username and password, if you don’t already have one. Should you have any difficulties using the system please contact NIEA on Tel 028 92 623150 during office hours or email

Once an online application is paid and approved the status will show as ‘In progress – Final Checks’. 

The regulations (Water (NI) Order 1999) provides a 4 month timescale to determine an application for a Consent to discharge, this means your application can take up to 4 months to process.  You should ensure you allow sufficient time for your consent application to be processed.

To check the progress of your application you may contact us directly at  or Tel 028 92 623181

Please note that as part of the application process the site and/or system may be inspected by an authorised officer of the Department. The inspection of the sewage treatment system may also involve dye testing and an inspection of the area where any discharge point is located. We
will attempt to contact you to arrange a suitable time, but to facilitate the progress of your application, this visit may take place without the homeowner/occupier being present. If you wish to be present during the inspection, please contact us at  or Tel 028 92 623181 to advise.

Applicants are required to provide a UK address on their application to which their consent can be issued.

Should the application be refused, you can appeal the decision within 28 days of receipt of notification of the refusal decision, by contacting the Water Appeals Commission.

For details of the fees applicable view:

Domestic Consents are for discharges from a single dwelling only. For sites of 2 or more dwellings, please first seek advice from NI Water regarding connection to the public sewer network. In the event that NI Water do not have capacity in their foul sewerage infrastructure you will need to apply to NI Water for a waste water impact assessment.
This will determine if there are any mitigation measures the developer can take to achieve a connection to NI Water infrastructure.

Please see for further details.

If, following NI Water advice, developer constructed sewage treatment is the only option, a suitable treatment plant, which can meet the specification for NI Water adoption under an Article 161 agreement will be considered. An application for an industrial consent to discharge would then be required. Applications for multiple domestic consents for adjacent properties as part of a housing development are not likely to be approved.

The Water Order Fees and Charges Policy 2023/24 has been developed in line with the NIEA Regulatory Charging Policy 2023. This policy has been extended until 2023 and can be viewed at the link below:

​Application guidance

Industrial consent application

Application forms and guidance

Application fees and charges

If you are unsure as to what the relevant fee should be, please contact Northern Ireland Environment Agency at  

Industry type annexes

Complete appropriate annex for your industry type and submit with main application form WO1.

Industrial Consents currently being advertised

In accordance with The Control of Pollution (applications and registers) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001, the applications currently being advertised can be viewed here.

How to access the information:

While our offices are closed due to COVID-19, copies of the applications listed above may be obtained free of charge by contacting NIEA.

We will provide an electronic version, by email or, if required, can post a hard copy. For applications where there is a large volume of supporting information, this has been made available to view online at the link shown above. If you are unable to access the information online, please contact the office to arrange an appointment to come in and view the materials, during office hours at our premises at NIEA, Water Regulation Team Offices, 17 Antrim Road, Lisburn, Co Antrim, BT28 3AL.

Access to the office is strictly by appointment only and will comply with all hygiene and social distancing requirements under the current COVID-19 guidelines.

Please contact NIEA on 028 92 623155 or email to obtain or a copy of the information or arrange an appointment to view the materials.

How to respond:

Please send your written responses or comments on these applications to either the address above or to Please include the relevant TC reference. The closing date for responses is listed in the table above.

Please be advised that under Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulations, any responses to this advertisement may be supplied to a third party on request.

Joint Applications for Waste and Water authorisations

Please note that for activities requiring a Waste Management Licence under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 or a Part B PPC permit under The Pollution Prevention and Control (Industrial Emissions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013, a consent to discharge under the terms of the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 may also be required.

It is now possible to apply for these permissions in parallel.

More information

Further information and advice can be obtained from Water Management Unit.

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