Environmental permissions are granted by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to businesses, individuals and public sector organizations that operate in Ontario. Environmental permissions set rules that protect the natural environment and human health, including:

  • approvals
  • assessments
  • filings
  • licences
  • permits
  • registrations

You must have an environmental permission from the ministry if you plan to engage in an activity that:

  • relates to the construction, alteration or operation of a municipal drinking water system
  • releases contaminants into the air, land or water
  • stores, transports or disposes of waste
  • takes more than 50,000 litres of water per day from the environment

You may also need an environmental permission if you are:

  • moving large volumes of soil from one location to another
  • planning to redevelop a site that was previously used for a different purpose (for example, building houses on an old factory or dry cleaning site)

Some activities are exempt from the requirement to obtain an environmental permission, depending on environmental risk. You may also be exempt from having a permission for some parts of your operation but still require a permission for others.

If you are exempt, it is your responsibility to be aware of and understand all legal requirements that apply to your activity. You can contact us if you need more information about exemptions.

You may also need permits and approvals from other jurisdictions. Make sure you have all appropriate approvals and permissions before you engage in your activity.

Types of environmental permissions

You will need to review the different types of environmental permissions to determine if you need to comply with the requirements. You or your business may require more than one type of environmental permission, depending on the nature of your activities.

Brownfields record of site condition (RSC)

An RSC summarizes the environmental condition of a property as a result of completing an environmental site assessment. When a property owner wants to change the use of a property to a new use that is more sensitive than the previous use, an RSC must be filed in the Environmental Site registry. RSCs can reduce potential liability for property owners, municipalities and other groups when redeveloping properties such as brownfields.

Drinking water systems

Owners of systems supplying drinking water to municipalities must obtain a Drinking Water Works Permit to construct or alter the drinking water system and a licence to operate the system

Owners of non-municipal drinking water systems, such as privately-owned systems that serve apartment buildings, private subdivisions and mobile home parks are not required to obtain an approval from the ministry to construct or operate their system. However, permission may be required to split up or fragment the system or get relief from regulatory requirements.

Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR)

The EASR is an online self-registration registry for the following activities:

  • automotive refinishing facilities
  • commercial printing facilities such as lithographic, screen and digital
  • facilities processing end-of-life vehicles
  • non-hazardous waste transportation systems (such as trucks and other motor vehicles, including vans and cars on public roads)
  • small ground-mounted solar facilities
  • specific water-taking activities

Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA)

An ECA lets businesses operate their facility or site with environmental controls to protect human health and the natural environment. Some activities that may need an ECA include:

  • manufacturing
  • hazardous waste transportation
  • landfill and waste transfer stations
  • private or municipal wastewater treatment

Permit to Take Water (PTTW)

A PTTW is a permission that allows businesses and individuals to take more than a total of 50,000 litres of water in a day, with some exceptions. PTTW applications are classified according to their anticipated risk to the environment.

Pesticide licences and permits

Ontario regulates pesticides by placing appropriate education, licensing and/or permit requirements on their use. You or your business may require more than one type of pesticide licence, depending on your activity.

Permits are required to use pesticides that may pose a higher risk to human and environmental health, or when you apply pesticides to water, or apply certain pesticides by air.

Renewable Energy Approval (REA)

Projects producing electricity from renewable sources require a REA. Renewable energy projects include:

  • solar (ground mounted)
  • sind
  • bio-energy (such as anaerobic digestion, thermal treatment)

Site-specific standard approvals and technical standard registrations

Site-specific standard approvals and technical standard registrations are two permissions under Ontario Regulation 419/05: Air Pollution – Local Air Quality.

The environmental permissions process

These steps are a general overview of the environmental permissions process. The requirements you need to follow for each step will be different depending on the type of environmental permissions you need.

Step 1 – Find out which environmental permission(s) you need

Review each type of environmental permission and the relevant regulations. Identify all activities that you have planned or are underway and how they impact the environment.

You or your business may require more than one type of environmental permission, depending on the nature of your activities.

If you need help identifying which permission types you should review, you can:

  • contact us and provide a complete list of your activities
  • consider getting the services of qualified professionals to help you determine which environmental permission you need or to help you apply for your permission

Step 2 – Complete any prerequisite requirements

You may need to meet other criteria before you prepare and complete your submission for an environmental permission. For example, you may need to:

  • apply for municipal permits
  • get approval from the federal government
  • complete assessments and technical studies

For more information on pre-requisite requirements, read the guidance for each environmental permission you need

Step 3 – Review the requirements for your environmental permission

You should read through the guidance for each environmental permission you will need, including the technical guidance on design and operation.

You can also stay up to date on any new requirements by reviewing the latest updates to environmental permissions and any relevant postings on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

Pre-submission consultation

Pre-submission consultation meetings with ministry staff are available for certain types of permissions. These meetings are an opportunity for us to review, discuss and clarify complex technical requirements, unique circumstances and other application requirements. Read the guidance for your environmental permission to learn when and how to request a pre-submission consultation meeting.

Step 4 – Prepare your submission

Prepare your submission in the format described in the guidance for your environmental permission. You can complete most submissions online. Read the guidance for each environmental permission for more details on how to submit, or contact us if you need more information.

Step 5 – Submit, register or apply

Submit, register or apply for your environmental permission. Provide supporting documents and pay the fee (if applicable). We will notify you when we receive your submission. Be sure to keep all communications and reference numbers for your records.


You might have to pay a fee for the submission, processing and review. Fees vary based on the type of environmental permission and the type of application. For more information, read to the guidance for your environmental permission.

Step 6 – Ministry review (if applicable)

We may need to review your submission before we give you approval to engage in your activity. We may also request additional information from you during our review.

For certain permissions, we will post a decision notice on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

Environmental permissions that require ministry review are reviewed in the order we receive them.

We provide service standards and timelines for the review and approval of environmental permissions to help you to plan each phase of your project. For more information, read the guidance for your environmental permission.

Step 7 – Receive your environmental permission

Depending on how you submitted your permission, you may receive a copy in the mail or you may need to download a copy of your permission. Save all communications from the ministry for your records. For more information, please refer to the guidance for your environmental permission.

You may also need permits and approvals from other jurisdictions. Make sure you have all appropriate approvals and permissions before you engage in your activity.

Step 8 – Comply with your environmental permission

You must follow the operational requirements in your environmental permission, which may include reporting requirements. Learn more about what to expect when an Environmental Officer inspects your facility, and how to report a spill.

Post-approval reporting

You may be required to prepare and submit post-approval reports as part of the conditions of your environmental permission or because of regulatory requirements. These reports can be one-time or reoccurring requirements with regulated deadlines for submission. For more information, read the guidance for your environmental permission.

Step 9 – Renew or make a change

You may need to renew your environmental permission or make an update if your business activities change.


Some environmental permissions have a regular renewal cycle to ensure you are following best practices to protect the environment and human health.

Make a change

If you plan to make a change to your operation or process that is outside the scope of your permission, you may need a new permission or to update your existing environmental permission. You should begin by reviewing step 1 of the environmental permissions process.

Search for environmental permissions

You can use the following resources to search for environmental permissions.

Access Environment

Find and view environmental permissions on an interactive map of Ontario.

Location of landfill sites

Find the location of landfill sites in Ontario.

Open Data Catalogue

Find datasets that are available to the public.

Records of site condition

Find records that were filed:

Latest updates to environmental permissions

Consider bookmarking this page to your web browser stay up-to-date on changes related to environmental permissions.


Refer to the Environmental Registry of Ontario for notices on provincial government decision-making that might affect the environment.

Contact us

For more information about environmental permissions or to provide your feedback, you may contact the Client Services and Permissions Branch: