Changes to water abstraction licensing exemptions
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January 20, 2016

The long awaited or feared, depending on your view, response to a 2009 consultation on licensing exempt abstractions has been issued by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales. Despite many years of procrastination by DEFRA and the Environment Agency the process now appears to be on a fast track. Consultation ends on 8 April and it is expected that new regulations and transition arrangements will be in place by October 2016.

The “proposed” changes affect you if you are currently or plan to abstract water for the following purposes:

  • All forms of irrigation (other than spray irrigation), including using field drains to maintain in-field soil moisture levels
  • Dewatering of mines and quarries
  • Dewatering of engineering works
  • Dewatering of oil and gas reservoirs to enhance production
  • Abstraction of water into internal drainage districts
  • Abstraction within currently exempt geographical areas (in Wales and England) and some rivers in England close to the Scottish border
  • Remaining Crown exemptions and visiting armed forces abstractions
  • There are a couple of other current exemptions, that have relatively minor relevance.

Envireau Water will be reviewing the consultation document in detail over the coming weeks and will issue specific industry bulletins covering agriculture, quarrying, oil & gas, and exempt geographic areas. These will be posted on our Envireau Knowledge website.

In the meantime if you have questions, queries or concerns please contact either James Dodds or Tamsin Morey on 01332 871882 or via