Find out about progress on the final stage of the implementation of the Water Act 2003
One of the remaining changes proposed by the Water Act 2003 is to remove various exemptions from licence control
. This aims to provide a more consistent approach to the regulation of abstraction in England and Wales. It will also contribute towards measures needed to maintain good chemical and ecological status
in all relevant surface and groundwater bodies. Controlling these larger abstractions will:
- help to remedy adverse environmental effects caused by abstractions that are currently exempt from licence control;
- enable us to manage water resources more effectively by making water abstraction controls more flexible, proportionate and risk-based;
- contribute towards the sustainable use of water resources, and
- create a level playing field where all major abstractors are subject to the same controls.
Exemptions being removed
The main exemptions being removed affect abstractions of more than 20 cubic metres a day:
- for dewatering, navigation and irrigation other than spray irrigation purposes (which is already subject to licence control) and transfers into Internal Drainage Board (IDB) areas;
- from certain exempt areas and rivers in England that border Scotland;
- by Crown bodies;
- by visiting forces.
Government has consulted on its proposals to remove these exemptions in England and Wales and how transitional regulations would bring existing abstractors under licence control. Separate regulations will also bring together some existing exemptions and introduce a small number of new exemptions. This will complete changes to the licensing system made by the Water Act 2003.
The consultation ran from 29th April until 22nd July and is now closed. Click on the link below to read our response:
If you have any further questions please email us:
National customer contact centre
PO Box 544