The New Authorisation regulations came into force on 1 January 2018, meaning that those with previously exempt abstractions now require an abstraction licence. The Environment Agency has announced a six-month extension to the application window for previously exempt abstractions, with the deadline being extended from 31 of December 2019 to the 30 June 2020.

Previously exempt abstractions include:

  • transferring water from one inland water to another in the course of, or as the result of, operations carried out by a navigation, harbour or conservancy authority;
  • abstracting water into internal drainage districts, but not including land drainage activities;
  • dewatering mines, quarries and engineering works, where the water is mostly groundwater rather than rainwater;
  • warping (abstraction of water containing silt for deposit onto agricultural land for fertiliser);
  • all forms of irrigation (other than spray irrigation, which is already licensable), and the use of land drainage systems in reverse, including transfers into managed wetland systems, to maintain field water levels;
  • abstractions within currently geographically exempt areas, including some rivers close to the borders of Scotland;
  • the majority of abstractions covered by Crown and visiting forces exemptions.

If you carry out one of the above abstractions and use more than 20m3 of water per day you need to apply for an exemption NOW.  This is the last opportunity to secure these protected rights for your abstraction - they cannot be retrospectively applied for after the 30 June 2020. Any abstraction after this date will be unlawful without a current licence.

Applications submitted after 30 June 2020 will be determined on the basis of water availability and for many parts of the country this would rule out abstracting water in the summer months, or at all, as many catchments have already reached their quota.

There is more information and details on how to apply on the website: 

If you have any queries or if we can be of any assistance, please contact the Rural Team on 01285 883740.

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