The Government has published its response following a consultation held by Defra on changes to water abstraction licensing exemptions in England and Wales and has announced that new licencing regulations will come into force on 1st January 2018. This will commence a two year licence application process for those requiring new or modified water abstraction licences.
Water transfers, for instance from main river into ordinary watercourses within an internal drainage district, or from main river into an environmentally designated site are currently exempt from licencing. The Government has indicated that it intends to move ahead with licencing such transfers, but has proposed that the Regulator will have ‘flexibility’ on the inclusion of volume conditions on a transfer licence in the future.
Defra and the Environment Agency are continuing discussions with ADA regarding the proposed water transfer licencing proposals. ADA remains concerned about potential impacts, in particular on the existing close cooperative working between risk management authorities, especially during periods of water shortage, and double charging with no recognition of the work that IDBs and others do to transfer water from main river abstraction points to end users. ADA has also highlighted possible negative impact on the water environment of lowland watercourses and environmentally designated wetlands.