Cross Compliance: Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2015 (GCCE 2015 v1)

GAEC 3: Groundwater

(Previously GAEC 20)

You must have a permit from the Environment Agency (EA) before you release (discharge) any substance that may harm or pollute groundwater, unless that discharge is an activity that is exempt.

'Groundwater' means all water below the surface of the ground in the saturation zone, that is, below the water table, and in direct contact with the ground or subsoil.

Examples of pollutants are:

  • used and waste sheep dip
  • pesticide washings
  • solvents, mineral oil
  • diesel
  • sewage
  • trade effluent
  • certain biocides.

What you must do

You must:

  • get a permit before carrying out any activity that pollutes or has the potential to pollute groundwater, unless it is an exempt or excluded groundwater activity. You can obtain a permit or advice from the EA.
  • comply with the conditions of any permit or notice from the EA.

Other guidance

You should also follow the Environment Agency's guidance on ‘Groundwater protection: Principles and practice’.

More information

The appendix for groundwater (GAEC 3) is available on GOV.UK. Search for ‘Cross compliance: guidance for 2015’ at


Rural Payments Agency: 0345 603 7777
Environment Agency: 03708 506 506

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