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  • by Karma Loveday

Pay more for permits, Environment Agency tells wastewater firms

Water companies will have to pay more for their environmental permits under charge changes being consulted on by the Environment Agency until 11 March.


The increases – the first since 2018 – reflect increases to agency costs including from inflation, but also incorporate the cost of new services that the watchdog said would improve the way it regulates the water industry – specifically “allowing it to take tougher action on pollution”. 


The increases include to:

  • permit application charges, including additional charges for habitats assessment;

  • most annual subsistence charges;

  • cover new annual subsistence charges for permits held by sewerage undertakers to discharge sewage effluent;

  • cover new duties and charges following the Environment Permitting Regulations 2023 groundwater amendments; and

  • introduce supplementary charges for specific substances assessments and amend circumstances when they are payable.


The proposed introduction of new subsistence charges for discharges of sewage effluent will have the greatest impact on the water industry. The consultation said these proposed subsistence charges, which are based on discharge volumes in 11 bands, “more accurately reflect the regulatory efforts that arise from more complex compliance assessment”.


The agency argued: “The proposed changes will transform the way the EA regulates the water industry, helping it to improve environmental performance…Increased funding will allow for more boots on the ground working to regulate water companies, as well as the advancement of digital and data capabilities to target efforts in the right places. These changes will support the industry to implement good practice and allow the EA to act on pollution and non-compliance.”

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