Groundwater provides a third of our drinking water in England, and it also maintains the flow in many of our rivers. In some areas of Southern England, groundwater supplies up to 80% of the drinking water that you get through your taps. It is crucial that the Environment Agency (EA) look after these sources and ensure that your water is completely safe to drink.


The EA have defined Source Protection Zones (SPZs) for groundwater sources such as wells, boreholes and springs used for public drinking water supply. These zones show the risk of contamination from any activities that might cause pollution in the area. The closer the activity, the greater the risk. The maps show three main zones (inner, outer and total catchment) and a fourth zone of special interest, which we occasionally apply, to a groundwater source.


The EA use the zones in conjunction with our Groundwater Protection Policy to set up pollution prevention measures in areas which are at a higher risk, and to monitor the activities of potential polluters nearby.


Well water under pressure from property developers


WATER CONTAMINATION - If houses are built on the hill that supplies the last surviving well in Herstmonceux, all of those who presently enjoy a sustainable water supply are likely to be poisoned by pesticides from the gardens of the proposed housing. In addition, where the hard standings of a proposal for 70 houses are to be gully drained to a point lower than the twin wells, soakage that supplies the wells will be diverted away potentially starving the wells of water and increasing pesticide accumulations from the proposed garden areas. The amusing cartoon above portrays the situation that perhaps the developers were not aware of, when they bought into a situation that they should have been able to rely on - if there had been a competent appraisal by Wealden District Council, the County Archaeologist and the Environment Agency. Unfortunately, the council concerned and the advisers to the original applicants appear to have been less diligent than they might have been in the rush to profit from a windfall situation. The developers in this case are confirmed to be: Clarion Housing Group, Thakeham Homes and Latimer Developments. Previously, the site was owned by Tim Watson and then Gleeson Developments. We understand that Mrs Claire Turner and Christopher Bending are two of the planning officers now with responsibility for this application which has reached the detailed (reserved matters) stage.




The shape and size of a zone depends on the condition of the ground, how the groundwater is removed, and other environmental factors. When we define a zone we find out how the groundwater behaves in that area, what constructions there are to get the water out into the public water supply, and the process for doing this. From this we can develop a model of the groundwater environment on which to define the zones.

The Environment Agency divide groundwater source catchments into four zones. The zones are divided as follows:

Inner zone (Zone 1) - Defined as the 50 day travel time from any point below the water table to the source. This zone has a minimum radius of 50 metres;

Inner zone - subsurface activity only (Zone 1c) Inner zone - subsurface activity only (Zone 1c) - extends Zone 1 where the aquifer is confined and may be impacted by deep drilling activities;

Outer zone (Zone 2) - Defined by a 400 day travel time from a point below the water table. The previous methodology gave an option to define SPZ2 as the minimum recharge area required to support 25 per cent of the protected yield. This option is no longer available in defining new SPZs and instead this zone has a minimum radius of 250 or 500 metres around the source, depending on the size of the abstraction;

Outer zone - subsurface activity only (Zone 2c) Outer zone - subsurface activity only (Zone 2c) - extends Zone 2 where the aquifer is confined and may be impacted by deep drilling;

Total catchment (Zone 3) - Defined as the area around a source within which all groundwater recharge is presumed to be discharged at the source. In confined aquifers, the source catchment may be displaced some distance from the source. For heavily exploited aquifers, the final Source Catchment Protection Zone can be defined as the whole aquifer recharge area where the ratio of groundwater abstraction to aquifer recharge (average recharge multiplied by outcrop area) is >0.75. There is still the need to define individual source protection areas to assist operators in catchment management;

Total catchment - subsurface activity only (Zone 3c) Total catchment - subsurface activity only (Zone 3c) - extends Zone 3 where the aquifer is confined and may be impacted by deep drilling activities;

Special interest (Zone 4) - A fourth zone SPZ4 or ‘Zone of Special Interest’ was previously defined for some sources. SPZ4 usually represented a surface water catchment which drains into the aquifer feeding the groundwater supply (i.e. catchment draining to a disappearing stream). In the future this zone will be incorporated into one of the other zones, SPZ 1, 2 or 3, whichever is appropriate in the particular case, or become a safeguard zone.

NOTE: The Source Protection Zones are not allowed to be displayed over base mapping greater than Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 scale, as the data was only modelled to this level and is not accurate pass this. They should not be compared against field boundaries.







When you need an environmental permit to discharge liquid effluent or waste water to surface water or onto the ground, and how to apply.

You may need an environmental permit if you discharge liquid effluent or waste water (poisonous, noxious or polluting matter, waste matter, or trade or sewage effluent):

  • into surface waters, for example, rivers, streams, estuaries, lakes, canals or coastal waters (known as water discharge activities)

  • onto or into the ground, for example, land spreading waste sheep dip, or discharging treated sewage effluent to ground via an infiltration system (known as groundwater activities)

You need to apply to the Environment Agency for a permit for any standalone water discharge or groundwater activity - standalone means the activity is not part of a waste operation, installation or mining waste operation.


If your water discharge is part of one of these operations, you can make the discharge part of your installation permit or waste or mining waste permit.


You’re breaking the law if you operate without a permit if you should have one.



When you do not need a permit


You do not need a permit:

  • to discharge uncontaminated water, for example, clean rainwater from roofs or small areas of hardstanding to surface water

  • to discharge uncontaminated water collected from public roads and small parking areas (that’s been through a maintained oil separator or sustainable urban drainage system) to surface water

  • for certain low-risk groundwater activities, known as groundwater activity exclusions

For more information about the Environment Agency’s position on protecting groundwater, see Groundwater protection position statements. Position statement G12 on page 29 explains when you do not need a permit for discharge of clean roof water to ground.

Discharges in sewered areas

You should discharge your waste water to the public foul sewer whenever it’s reasonable to do so. You do not need an environmental permit to do this.

You must consult your sewerage undertaker before you:

  • make a new connection to the public sewer

  • discharge anything other than domestic sewage


Permits in sewered areas


The Environment Agency will not give you a permit for a private sewage treatment system if it’s reasonable for you to connect to the public sewer.

If the distance from the boundary of your site to the nearest public sewer is less than the number of houses multiplied by 30 metres, you must show the Environment Agency why it’s not reasonable to connect to the public sewer. In some cases, we may ask you to consider connecting to the public sewer if it’s more than the number of houses multiplied by 30 metres away. Contact the Environment Agency to discuss your proposal before you apply for a permit. You will need to:


  • tell us how much it will cost to connect to the nearest public sewer

  • give us a formal response from your sewerage undertaker

  • tell us the cost of the private sewage treatment system you want to use

When we assess whether it’s reasonable for you to connect to the public sewer we take into account:


  • the comparative costs of connecting to public sewer and installing a private sewage treatment system

  • any physical barriers that would prevent you connecting to the public sewer

  • any environmental benefits that would arise from installing a private sewage treatment system such as the reuse of of treated effluent

If you’re planning a new development, plan your foul sewerage at an early stage and consult with the local authority and sewerage undertaker.


We will not normally give you a permit if you want to use a private sewage treatment system because there’s not enough capacity in the nearest public sewer. If necessary, you must agree improvements to the existing sewerage network, in order to allow connection, with the sewerage undertaker. These improvements must be put in place before the development is occupied. This aligns with planning practice guidance and the building regulations.



Disputes over connection to the public sewer


Your sewerage undertaker may have a duty to provide a first time sewerage scheme if:

  • your existing sewerage system is causing or is likely to cause an adverse effect on the environment or amenity which cannot be solved by repair or maintenance

  • the new system will serve more than one property

  • providing a public sewer is the most appropriate solution


Check the guidance for your activity


Your water discharge or groundwater activity may meet the conditions for an exemption from environmental permitting or a standard rules permit. For more information read the relevant guidance for:

You’ll need to apply for a bespoke permit if none of the above apply to you.


Contact the Environment Agency if you’re not sure if you need a permit.



Type of waste water: domestic sewage or trade effluent


As part of your permit application, or to know whether your activity qualifies for an exemption, you will need to classify your waste water. Read more about when your waste water is classed as domestic sewage.



Standard rules permits for package treatment plants


You may be able to apply for a standard rules permit if you operate a package treatment plant for secondary treatment of domestic sewage.


Your package treatment plant must discharge between 5 and 20 cubic metres of domestic treated sewage to surface water daily (for example, your plant treats sewage from a small hotel or bed and breakfast, not a single household). If your sewage discharge to surface water is less than 5 cubic metres per day and you meet the general binding rules, you do not need a permit.


Your operation must meet the description and rules, but:

  • you cannot change (vary) the rules and you have no right of appeal against them

  • if you want to change your operations and so will not meet the criteria of the standard permit anymore, you’ll have to apply to make it a bespoke permit instead

  • if there’s a change in your local environment after your permit has been issued (for example, a change in the definition of a groundwater source protection zone), you may need to apply to change your permit

Applying for a standard rules permit is usually quicker than a bespoke permit. If you do not meet the conditions for the standard rules permits you must apply for a bespoke permit.



Apply for a standard rules permit


Before you apply for a standard rules permit you need to:


Standard rules permits: application forms


Download and fill in these forms:

Send your completed forms and application fee to PSC-WaterQuality@environment-agency.gov.uk or post them to:


Environment Agency Permitting and Support Centre
Environmental Permitting Team
Quadrant 2
99 Parkway Avenue
Parkway Business Park
S9 4WF

Find out about:


Before you apply for a bespoke permit


You need to:

If you’re a water company or NAV (new appointments and variations) you must follow the guidance relevant to your activity:


Specific substances assessment


When you apply for a permit you’ll need to tell the Environment Agency if your discharge will contain specific substances.


If your discharge contains specific substances your risk assessment will need to include a specific substances assessment.


Find the list of surface water specific substances in the surface water pollution risk assessment guide.


For discharges to groundwater, a specific substances assessment is needed for hazardous substances and non-hazardous pollutants. This does not include discharges that only contain or are only likely to contain ammoniacal nitrogen, ammonium and suspended solids. Find the list of hazardous substances and non-hazardous pollutants for groundwater on the Water Framework Directive UK TAG website.



Apply for a bespoke permit


Standalone water discharge and groundwater activity permit (not open-loop heat pump systems)


Download and fill in forms:

Open-loop heat pump systems


Download and fill in forms:

Standalone groundwater discharges with spreading activities permit


Download and fill in forms:


Send your application


When you send your application you’ll need to include:

  • the relevant forms

  • the summary of your management system

  • your risk assessment if you’ve been required to do one

  • any other supporting documents mentioned in the form guidance, for example, site maps and plans

  • your fee


Email your completed forms to PSC-WaterQuality@environment-agency.gov.uk or you can post them to:


Environment Agency Permitting and Support Centre
Environmental Permitting Team
Quadrant 2
99 Parkway Avenue
Parkway Business Park
S9 4WF


Get help with your application


The Environment Agency offers basic pre-application advice to help you complete your application. This basic advice is free as the cost of providing it is included in the application charge.

For standard rules and bespoke permits the basic service covers the following advice (where applicable):


  • which standard rules set is relevant for your activities

  • helping you check that your activity meets the criteria for a standard rules permit

  • carrying out nature and heritage conservation screening

  • which applications forms and guidance to use

  • information about any administrative tasks the Environment Agency will need to do

For bespoke permits, the basic service also includes advice about risk assessments you may need to do to accompany your application.


If you need more in depth advice about your application the Environment Agency offers an enhanced pre-application advice service. The enhanced service costs £100 an hour plus VAT. It can include face to face meetings and advice on:

  • complex modelling

  • preparing risk assessments

  • parallel tracking complex permits with planning applications

  • specific substances assessments

  • monitoring requirements (including baseline)

The Environment Agency will give you a written estimate before it starts work. This will include:

  • a breakdown of the work it will carry out with costs

  • when these costs will be charged

Getting pre-application advice will help you submit a good quality application that can be processed (determined) smoothly and quickly. Complete the pre-application advice form if you want to request either basic (free), or enhanced (chargeable), pre-application advice.


If you cannot access the form please contact the Environment Agency. It will send you a paper copy to complete and return.



You must be the ‘legal operator’ of the water discharge or groundwater activity that you want a permit for.


This means you must have sufficient control of the activity, for example you:

  • have day to day control of the activity, including the manner and rate of operation

  • make sure that permit conditions are complied with

  • decide who holds important staff positions and have incompetent staff removed if required

  • make investment and financial decisions that affect the performance or how the activity is carried out

  • make sure that regulated activities are controlled in an emergency

You can have contractors carry out activities at your site and remain the operator if you continue to have sufficient control of the activity. But sometimes a contractor may be the legal operator or become the legal operator, based on the tests set out above. A remote holding company is unlikely to have sufficient control.


If you’re no longer the operator you must formally transfer the permit to the person who is the operator. If you continue to operate an activity when you’re no longer the legal operator the Environment Agency may take enforcement action against you or revoke the permit.

You must apply as a ‘legal entity’ that can be legally responsible for the permit and can accept liability, for example:

  • an individual

  • public limited company

  • private limited company

  • government body (for example, local authorities, NHS Trusts, Food Standards Agency)

  • limited liability partnership

As the operator you’re legally responsible for the activity whether or not it’s in operation.

Your application can be refused if the Environment Agency does not consider you to be the operator or a legal entity.



Joint operators of one activity


If your activity has more than one operator acting together, you need to make one joint application for all the operators. For example if several people jointly operate a treatment plant then they would all be named on the permit.



Keep sensitive information confidential


When the Environment Agency consults on your permit application it will let people see the information in your application.


You can ask the Environment Agency not to make public any information that is commercially sensitive for your business (for example, financial information). You can do this by including a letter with your application that gives your reasons why you do not want this information made public.

The Environment Agency will email or write to you within 20 days if it agrees to your request. It will let you know if it needs more time to decide.


If it does not agree to your request it will tell you how to:


  • appeal against its decision

  • withdraw your application


Fees and charges


You must pay a fee to apply for a permit.


You must send your fee with your application. If your application’s successful, the Environment Agency normally charge you an annual ‘subsistence’ fee while you have a permit. This fee depends on your activity and the type of permit you have.


Find out more about fees and charges. You can contact the Environment Agency for help to work out your fee.



After you apply


The Environment Agency may reject your application if, for example:

  • you have not used the right forms

  • you’ve forgotten to include the fee or sent the wrong fee

  • you have not provided important information

Once the Environment Agency has the information it needs to start assessing your application, it will contact you and tell you that your application is ‘duly made’. This means it’s starting the assessment process. It may still request more information if it needs it to complete its assessment.



Consultations on your permit application


The Environment Agency will publish online a notice of your application and instructions for how other people can see and comment on it.


Members of the public and anyone interested in the application have 20 working days to comment.

The Environment Agency may also consult other public bodies, for example, local authorities, Public Health England, water companies and Natural England.


If the Environment Agency considers your application to be of high public interest, it may:


  • take longer to give you a decision

  • carry out an extra consultation on the draft decision

  • advertise the application more widely


The Environment Agency’s public participation statement explains how and why it will consult on permit applications.



Decisions about your permit


The Environment Agency will write to you to tell you its decision about whether or not it can allow what you’ve asked for.


You should normally get a decision on your application within 13 weeks. The Environment Agency will tell you if your application will take longer.


You can appeal if it refuses your application or if you’re not happy with the conditions it has put into your permit. Its decision letter will explain how you can appeal.


The Environment Agency will publish the decision on its public register.


The Environment Agency will not normally change your permit within 4 years of it being issued. However, it may change your permit if:


  • you do not meet your permit conditions or environmental standards

  • there are changes to legislation


Comply with your permit


After you’ve been granted your permit you’ll need to comply with its conditions.

Find out how the Environment Agency will regulate you when you start operating.



Change, transfer or cancel your permit


After you have your permit, you can:

  • change (vary) the details on it

  • transfer it to someone else

  • cancel (surrender) it

Find out how to change, transfer or cancel your permit.








The officers dealing with the above application for Wealden District Council are Graham Kean, Mrs Claire Turner and Christopher Bending, the District Planning Officer.


1.2. In accordance with that condition:

A survey has been undertaken by the Sewerage Undertaker (Southern Water) which has resulted in a Section 98 Sewer Requisition in order to provide a suitable offsite sewer for the disposal of foul water from the development. Southern Water’s reference is SWS-S98-000519 v2, dated 10/11/2017 (copy of letter attached in Appendix 1) and has been accepted and payment made in order to progress; and · A full drainage design has been undertaken for the onsite foul drainage

The site is located off Gardner Street, to the south-east of Herstmonceux, and is centered on national grid reference E563798, N112404.

Existing public foul sewers have been located within Gardner Street to the north. To the northwest, within Gardner Street, is a foul network which runs east-west before running north to a pumping station (Gardner Street WPS). The pump main from the existing pumping station runs south to Gardner Street and then west-east along Gardner Street, discharging into a gravity main approximately 300m east of the site. This gravity sewer runs north-east to the Windmill Hill Waste Water Works.

3.6. A second foul network runs from a point to the south of the site discharging into the Lime Park Herstmonceux Waste Water Works, approximately 300m to the south.

The existing site is greenfield and no existing connections to foul infrastructure have been identified.

4.2. Investigations were undertaken as to whether the existing Lime Park Waste Water Works could be connected to under gravity and it was confirmed that the works themselves were not adequately sized to receive flows from a further 70 residential dwellings and would require reconstruction and consenting.

4.3. Any foul drainage solution would need to be received by existing or new infrastructure to the north of the site and would require a pumped solution, to overcome the topography.

4.4. Under Section 98 of the Water Industry Act, Southern Water were instructed to progress a solution of the offsite infrastructure upgrades required to support the development. Appendix 1 contains the offer letter received from Southern Water under this process.

4.5. The technical solution offered by Southern Water is to provide new and improved infrastructure in Chapel Row and Gardner Street as part of the Section 98 Requisition.

A gravity system of foul drainage has been proposed, based upon the approved illustrative layout, which collects the waste from the 70 units and drains to the south-west corner of the site, adjacent to Chapel Row.

5.3. A private pumping station has been proposed adjacent to Chapel Row which will collect the foul flows and pump them into the proposed foul rising main provided by Southern Water under the Section 98 application.




National Customer Contact Centre
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Environment Agency
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Tel: 03708 506 506
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