The Licensing Process Explained

An application for a waste water discharge (WWD) licence (or review of a licence)  must satisfy legislative requirements, largely set out in the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007 as amended.

An application must be made on the specified application form, (guidance notes are available)

It should be noted that the process regarding the application for (or the review of) a certificate of authorisation is different.  See Certification Process Explained.

The licence application process involves a number of stages as outlined below.


Stage 1 – Pre-Application

The EPA facilitates pre-application consultation meetings with prospective applicants.  Such meetings are held on request.

Before making an application, you must:

  • Publish a notice in a newspaper circulating in the area
  • Erect a site notice indicating that you propose to apply for a licence
  • Notify relevant Water Services Authority (where appropriate)

The content of the notices are set out in the Regulations.


Stage 2 – Application for a Licence

This stage includes EPA assessment of the application and submissions on the application.

In making an application, make sure to:

  • Use the specific application form and answer all questions (guidance notes are available)
  • Attach all necessary supporting documentation (including fee)

We may request further information in accordance with the regulations.

Once we have acknowledged the application as complete, we cannot make a decision on the application until a month has passed to allow for further submissions. 

Before making our decision, we must take into account any valid submissions received.


Stage 3 – Decision

The EPA, in arriving at its decision, considers the application, all submissions received and the report of its inspector.

The EPA is required to make a decision on an application within a period of 4 months from the date of receipt of a full application, however this period may be extended in certain circumstances.

The EPA notifies the applicant, and any person who made a written submission, of the decision on the application, and makes it available for public inspection on its website.


Stage 4 - Review of an existing licence

Where a Water Services Authority is of the opinion that its existing Waste Water Discharge Licence requires a review, it should contact the Office of Environmental Enforcement in writing outlining the reasons why it thinks its Licence needs to be reviewed.  The Office of Environmental Enforcement in consultation with the Environmental Licensing Programme of the Office of Environmental Sustainability, will consider the grounds for review and make a decision on whether or not a review is required.  This decision will be notified to the Licensee.

Once it is established that a review is required, the Licensee proceeds to apply for a review of their Licence in accordance with the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007 as amended.  The procedure for lodging an application for a review of a Waste Water Discharge Licence is similar to that of applying for a Licence.

The Agency can also initiate a review of a Licence in certain circumstances as outlined in Regulation 14 of the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007 as amended.

Stage 5 - Amendment of an existing licence/certificate

The Agency may amend a licence or certificate or revised licence or revised certificate for the purposes of -

  1. correcting any clerical error therein,
  2. facilitating the doing of any thing pursuant to a condition attached to the licence or certificate where the doing of that thing may reasonably be regarded as having been contemplated by the terms of the condition or the terms of the licence or certificate taken as a whole but which was not expressly provided for in the condition, or
  3. otherwise facilitating the operation of the licence or certificate where the making of the amendment does not result in the relevant environmental requirements ceasing to be satisfied.

Judicial Review Notice

Judicial Review of Environmental Protection Agency decisions under the provisions of the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007 as amended
A person wishing to challenge the validity of an EPA decision may do so by way of judicial review only. The validity of a decision taken by the EPA may only be questioned by making an application for Judicial Review under Order 84 of the Rules of the Superior Courts (as amended). The Rules of the Superior Courts and all relevant amendments can be found at or  

Regulation 34 of the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007 as amended provides that any application for judicial review must be made within twenty eight days of the date on which the EPA issues either (1) the authorisation or (2) notification of a decision not to consider an application or to refuse. 

Further information on Judicial Review in environmental and planning matters may be found at (see

Disclaimer:  The above is intended for information purposes. It does not purport to be a legal interpretation of the relevant provisions and it would be advisable for persons contemplating judicial review proceedings to seek independent legal advice.

Learn More

For further information contact the Environmental Licensing Programme at:

Office of Environmental Sustainability
PO Box 3000
Johnstown Castle Estate
County Wexford

Tel: Locall 1890 33 55 99  OR  053 916 0600
Fax: 053 916 0699