Changes to CAR Licencing Regime in Scotland, Implications for the Construction Industry

As of the 1st of January 2018 any construction site:

• Of 4 Ha or greater;
• With a construction access road of 5 km or more; or
• Containing either 1 Ha of land or linear length >500 m where the slope is in excess of 25 degrees;

will need a formal CAR Licence to be in place prior to commencement of site works. The changes to the CAR Licensing Regime will result in a large number of construction sites needing a formal licence to be in place prior to works commencing.

In practice the changes mean that:

• Effectively the project can’t commence till a licence has been granted and is place; licence applications can have a four month statutory response period, so can take a considerable length of time to obtain.

• There is a need to nominate a named person/company who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the licence.

• As part of the granting of the Licence the responsible person needs to prepare and agree with SEPA a Pollution Prevention Plan (PPP). SEPA’s agreement to the PPP shall be obtained in writing.

• Where phased construction works are planned, separate PPP documents covering each of the separate construction phases must be prepared and agreed.

• Where breaches of the licence conditions/PPP occur the nominated responsible person is required to inform SEPA of the breach within 24hrs and must submit a report within 2 weeks.

The knock in effect of these amendments is that Construction companies must now as part of their pre-construction planning stage make a detailed assessment of the treatment solution (method and size), and predicted water quality that will be achieved during the construction phase, it will no longer be acceptable to arbitrary select a treatment solution eg settlement lagoon, without first establishing a prediction of the size of the lagoon required; a predicted water quality that will be discharged from the lagoon and the requirements for using any pre-treatment chemicals, needed to achieve the required water quality.


Once the CAR Licence and associated PPP have been agreed, any variation to the licence conditions or change to the PPP must be agreed with SEPA. Any such changes can if deemed to be significant be considered to be a variation and will be subject to the payment of an additional fee which may be in order of £1,000 to £2,000 and take a lengthy period of time (upto 4 Months) to obtain approval. Post award of the licence is not the time to identify that the nominated treatment solution will not achieve the required treatment standards.

Prior to construction works commencing it is essential that additional design information relating to the nature and volumes of water which will be generated during the construction phase need to be collected, assessed and reviewed. This information will include details of the:

• The Ground Conditions (soils that will be exposed during the site works.)

• Specialist Testing of either synthetic or actual samples of site run-off water to establish what will be required to effectively treat site water.

• Confirmation of the need for chemical pre-treatment, the nature of the chemicals which will be used, likely dose rates and measures that will be adopted to prevent overdosing of chemicals (potential release into environment) and/or spills/leakages of the treatment chemicals from occurring.

• Predicted treated water quality that will be achieved, including likely residual concentrations of treatment chemicals present within the treated water.

In the future if a company,

• fails to make a site specific assessment of the volumes of water that will need to be treated,

• the method of treatment (including size) and treated water quality

This will result in the inclusion of inappropriate/wrongly sized treatment system with the agreed PPP and cause non-compliant water to be discharged from site (a breach of the CAR Licence).

Under the new requirements failure to properly plan for the resultant “dirty” water which inevitably will be created during the construction works will result in companies facing increased costs and delays associated with the submission of formal variations to the agreed CAR licence.