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Defra said the changes to the Groundwater Regulations 1998 will have only a “minor” impact as it launched a consultation on the proposed amendments.

Companies in the water, chemicals, mining, waste and agricultural sectors that discharge substances that can cause groundwater pollution, or who currently follow the existing regulations, are being asked to give their feedback.

The changes will allow the UK to comply with the EU’s Groundwater Directive, which operates alongside the Water Framework Directive.

Under the directive, member states must set thresholds for the level of chemicals in groundwater which, if breached, would trigger an investigation into whether environmental standards have been met.

Any significant trends of increasing pollution must be identified and governments must reverse the trend.

It also calls on member states to prevent hazardous substances contaminating groundwater and limit pollution.

Environment minister Phil Woolas said: “It’s a priority for the proposed guidelines to be as simple, workable and cost-neutral as possible, all while safeguarding groundwater.

“While a slightly wider range of hazardous substances will be subject to controls, there will also be greater flexibility around these controls.”

Views on the changes can be submitted to Defra until August 20. The consultation paper and information on submissions can be found here.

Kate Martin

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