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The definition of trade effluent is set out in the Water Industry Act 1991 as 'any liquid, either with or without particles of matter in suspension in the liquid, which is wholly or partly produced in the course of any trade or industry carried on at a trade premises'.

In fewer words, it's the majority of wastewater produced by trade operations.

Do I need a trade effluent consent?

If you are unsure whether or not you require a trade effluent consent, please see attached document ‘Do I need a TE consent’ for guidance.  

How to apply for trade effluent consent

If you think your business requires a trade effluent consent, please download the relevant form with the supporting guidance below. Once complete please submit the application form along with any supporting documents to your water retailer (This is NOT Northumbrian Water – see your latest water bill for details).


Your retailer will check the form has the necessary information and then forward it onto us for assessment.


Once the complete application form is accepted by us, we’ll initiate the assessment, keeping you and your water retailer informed about key stages in the decision process.

Unsuccessful applications and appeals

If your application is unsuccessful, we will let you know why. You have the right to appeal to Ofwat if we:

  • refuse consent
  • put conditions on the consent that are not suitable, or
  • take longer than 2 months to issue consent.


We recommend that you get in touch with your retailer, or us, to resolve any issues before contacting Ofwat. 

Additional conditions on consent

We're the main decision maker for your consent application, but sometimes the Environment Agency will also add additional conditions to your consent.


This is usually because of the substances involved in the discharge, or the processes. The conditions are focussed on the control of persistent or toxic substances.

Altering and cancelling consent

If you need to alter your consent, or you no longer need it, you need to tell your retailer. You are responsible for making sure your consent is up to date and reflects the:

  • legal entity making the discharge
  • process producing the discharge, and
  • flow and composition of the effluent.
More information on trade effluent consent
Public register of consent

The public register of consents is available from Leat House, Washington, NE38 8LB.

Trade effluent legislation

The main piece of legislation on trade effluent is the Water Industry Act 1991.


Section 118(5) of this Act makes it an offence to discharge any trade effluent into a sewer without the consent of the sewerage undertaker. We're the sewerage undertaker, in this case.

Special category effluent

The Trade Effluents (Prescribed Process and Substances) Regulations 1989, amended 1990, set out a number of processes and substances as ′Special Category′.


A list of these processes and substances can be found in the application form.


If an application is made for consent to discharge special category effluent then we must send the application to the Environment Agency, who will either refuse the discharge or serve a Notice of Determination on us, setting out requirements that certain conditions are not exceeded when imposed within the consent to the Discharge of Trade Effluent.

The consent document

Any consent document will contain conditions such as the:

  • maximum daily volume of effluent permitted to be discharged
  • maximum consented rate of discharge, and
  • prohibition of certain constituents from any discharge.


Quality parameters include Total Chemical Oxygen Demand, Suspended Solids and Oil and Grease.


Further quality conditions are applied based on the composition and type of effluent, as stated in the application.

Monitoring trade effluent

Any consent may include conditions stating any requirements of a trader to monitor their discharge.


We may also monitor any discharge of trade effluent to assess consent compliance and for charging purposes.


A sample point is identified in the consent document from which we may sample the discharge at any time.


Information about our charging mechanism can be found within the large user tariffs section in our Charges Scheme document, found at the bottom of this page.


It is illegal, under section 118(5) of the Water Industry Act 1991 to discharge trade effluent without the consent of the sewerage undertaker.


It is also illegal, under section 111 of the same Act to discharge any matter likely to injure the sewer, interfere with the free flow of its contents or affect prejudicially the treatment and disposal of its contents.


Furthermore, it is an offence under section 121 of the Act to contravene, or break, any conditions imposed in any consent granted.


All three of these offences carry a maximum fine of £5,000 per offence on summary of conviction at Magistrates Court or an unlimited fine if referred to Crown Court.


In smaller cases, we may choose to offer a Formal Caution. We may also seek to recover any costs incurred in dealing with such matters, under the "polluter pays principle".

Tankered waste
Ensuring liquid waste is dealt with safely, sustainably and cost effectively is a major responsibility for businesses.


Our sewage treatment centres are industry leading in their sustainable approach to Industrial Effluent and Cess & Septic waste treatment. Find out more.

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