Water Abstraction Licence Flexibility
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February 11, 2019

James Dodds, Chairperson, is a member of the Water for Food Group – a National Farmers Union/Environment Agency (EA) liaison group focusing on water resources issues across the food sector. At a recent meeting, water abstraction licence flexibility was discussed.

After a very dry summer in 2018, the 2018/2019 winter season has brought lower than usual levels of rainfall, resulting in low river flows. Reservoirs and aquifers have also not had a chance to recharge sufficiently. While rain is forecast for February-April, the EA is undertaking contingency plans, including the consideration of relaxing abstraction conditions.

The EA will shortly be publishing an updated position on flexible abstraction on the Government website and is likely to consider:

  • Extending winter season to refill agriculture reservoirs and nature reserves into April 2019 (subject to flow availability)
  • Assessing acceptability of short-term trades, if the buyer and seller’s water sources are hydrologically connected
  • Licence changes provided they are environmentally sustainable
  • Abstraction charges to flexing arrangements
  • Encouraging farmers to vary licences

We will share the updated EA position statement once it is available. In the meantime, click here to view the EA’s current position statement.

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