Our Managing Director James Dodds attended the Abstraction Licence Reform workshop hosted by DEFRA and the Environment Agency in London last week. This was a full day examining issues around the transition period leading up to reform as well as an appeal process that could be used for licence holders whose licences are changed. The day gave a very useful update on timings and it was clear that 2015 would be an important year in defining rules and methods, while the transition period will kick in in about 2018, with the fully reformed system starting “in the early 2020’s”.
Key outcomes from the discussions included the need for “an intelligent decision process”, rather than a simple tick box; the need for dialogue, understanding and negotiation from both sides, rather than dogmatism; and the need to simplify and reduce the scale of the project by dealing with small licences that don’t affect the bigger picture with a very light touch.
A very innovative way to deal with appeals was suggested by the table that James sat on, which was to put the burden of appeal onto the Environment Agency rather than the licence holder. It was suggested that this was far more likely to achieve a “get it right first time” approach from DEFRA/EA. Unsurprisingly the idea didn’t get much support from DEFRA!
Envireau Water continue to monitor and contribute to the licence reform process and if you would to discuss any aspects, issues or concerns please contact James Dodds.