On 31st October 2017 the UK and Welsh Governments’ published their response to consultations on changes to the current exemptions from water abstraction licensing in England and Wales. The response is available here.
The new licensing regulations covering these exemptions will now come into force on 1st January 2018. Existing exempt abstractors are covered by transitional provisions if they can show that an exempt abstraction has taken place over the seven years preceding 1st January 2018. Where abstractions meet the transitional provisions, there will be a two year licence application period. At the end of the two-year application period, there will be a further three-year period during which the applications will be determined. During these five years, abstractors can continue to take their existing volume of water. Applicants should start the process as soon as possible as applications that are not accepted within the 2-year period will not fall under the transitional provisions and a new licence application will be required. The Environment Agency has indicated that it may take up to 3 months to process an application, so one submitted after 1st October 2019 is unlikely to succeed. Any previously exempt abstraction that commences after 1st January 2018 will require an application for a new licence under the normal application process. It is important to note that if there is an existing exempt abstraction, licensable under the transitional arrangements, where an increase in abstraction is proposed after 1st January 2018, this increase must be licensed as a new abstraction.
For further information on how we can help with your licensing requirements under the new legislation, please call Chris Leake or Heather Macleod