New Rules are Shortly to Come into Force in Relation to the Abstraction of Water from Rivers, Wetlands and Boreholes

Previously exempt activities such as trickle irrigation for growing potatoes will require a licence from the Environment Agency. The deadline is 31 December 2019.

The new rules are an attempt by the Environment Agency to reduce the amount of water extracted from, in particular, streams with a modest flow. They follow the hot and dry summer of 2018 when there was much criticism of potato farms using spray irrigation.

Who Needs to Apply?

Any farmer, householder or business wanting to draw 4400 gallons (20m³) of water per day from a water course, wetland or a borehole will need to acquire a licence through the Environment Agency website. As a rough guide this is a similar amount to a medium sized milk tanker or equates to 260 baths a day. These water abstraction rules will better protect the environment by helping to balance the needs of abstractors while protecting scarce water supplies and the plants and animals that rely on them.

How Do I Apply for a Licence?

Enquiries can be made by calling 03708 506 506 or emailing enquiries@environment‐agency.gov.uk stating “New Authorisations” in the email subject. The Environment Agency strongly recommends that people submit their applications before the end of September 2019, as it can take up to three months to validate an application.

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