The Wholly or Mainly Conundrum
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April 23, 2018

The exemption from abstraction licensing for dewatering of groundwater or rainwater in mining, quarrying or other engineering works has been removed.

“Where dewatering of groundwater takes place a licence will be required where the abstracted water is from water contained in any underground strata whether hydraulically isolated or not. Establishing whether and how groundwater interacts with other water sources and the impacts this may have on the environment and other abstractors is part of the considerations of an abstraction licence decision. A licence is not required for the dewatering of wholly or mainly rainwater from an excavation.” (Defra/Welsh Government ‘Government response to consultation on changes to water abstraction licensing exemptions in England and Wales: New Authorisations’, October 2017).

This may seem straightforward, but there is no definition of “wholly or mainly” within legislation. In the following bulletin, we explore this conundrum.

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