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 European Union (Waste Water Discharge) Regulations 2020. 

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 is 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 five weeks have passed, to allow time for further submissions.  

Before making our decision, we must take into account any valid submissions received within the five-week timeframe. 

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 four  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 Irish Water 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 European Union (Waste Water Discharge) Regulations 2007 to 2020. 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 EPA can also initiate a review of a licence in certain circumstances as outlined in Regulation 14 of the European Union (Waste Water Discharge) Regulations 2007 to 2020. 

Stage 5 - Amendment of an existing licence or certificate

The EPA may amend a licence or certificate (or revised licence or revised certificate) in accordance with guidance as set out in the EPA Guidance for Irish Water on Requests for Alterations to a Waste Water Discharge Licence or Certificate of Authorisation and for the purposes of: 

  1. Correcting any clerical error in the licence or certificate 
  2. Facilitating the doing of anything 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 amendment does not result in the relevant environmental requirements ceasing to be satisfied 

Judicial review notice 

Judicial Review of EPA decisions under the provisions of the European Union (Waste Water Discharge) Regulations 2007 to 2020  
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 European Union (Waste Water Discharge) Regulations 2007 to 2020 provides that any application for judicial review must be made within 28 days of the date on which the EPA issues either (1) the authorisation or (2) notification of a decision not to consider or to refuse an application.  

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

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 anyone 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 

Co Wexford 

Tel: 053 9160600 
Lo-call: 0818 33 55 99