NFU urges irrigators to check that licences are fit for purpose

river stour at nayland, water, drought, abstraction_45481

As the 2018 cropping season comes to an end the NFU is urging members to use the next few months to carry out a ‘health check’ on their abstraction licences to make sure they are fit to meet current needs.

It follows publication by the Environment Agency of its updated regulatory position designed to provide clarity on the ‘licence flexibility’ available to irrigators and agricultural abstractors.

The NFU is pleased that the Agency is keeping its range of flexibility options under review, especially since the prolonged dry weather period in some areas could continue into the winter. With lower than average rainfall continuing in some places, we are still waiting for signs of groundwater beginning to recharge ready for next year.

Paul Hammett, NFU water specialist said:

“Predictions of drought and water scarcity in 2019 would clearly be premature, but the NFU will maintain regular contact with the Agency through the winter to review its regulatory position”.

“It’s definitely good practice for abstractors to think ahead by forward planning with the benefit of what we learned this year”. 

There are a number of ways in which licences can be changed, sometimes with a fairly minor ‘licence variations’ approved by the Agency that can usefully benefit irrigators during times of water scarcity, such as:

  • Reviewing the ‘hands off flow conditions’ on your licence more frequently, allowing you to take advantage of any peak flows when significant rainfall occurs. 
  • Identifying fast track water trades and access to additional water with other parties by getting those arrangements pre-approved well before they are needed (and even if they do not actually need to be used when the time comes).
  • Extending your reservoir filling season to permit abstraction outside your normal winter filling period.
  • If necessary, consider 'borrowing' groundwater from future allocations.
  • Checking the terms of your licence. Do your daily volumes, abstraction point and calendar dates for abstraction still fit with how you actually use you licence?

Abstractors wishing to explore these and other options should contact the Environment Agency through your local area office or the National Customer Contact Centre on 03708 506 506. 


Last edited on: 25:10:2018

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