What Is A Water Abstraction License And What Does It Mean For New Quarries?


Previously, quarries were exempt from the water abstraction regime, meaning they were not required to own a license to dewater quarries. As of 2019, however, quarries now need to submit an application for a license before they can do this. The transition application period ended in December 2019, so any new quarries in 2020 will need to apply for this license.


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What Does Water Abstraction Cover?

Water abstraction covers anything that involves taking water from a surface source, or from underground. Any businesses that will be abstracting over 20 cubic metres on average each day will need a license to do so. This is provided by the Environment Agency (EA). They will assess the availability of local water against your application before it will be approved.

Who Doesn’t Need A Water Abstraction License?

If you’re a quarry that mainly dewaters rainwater, you may not need a license if:

  • It can be clearly identified that dewatering is mainly or wholly rainwater – in this case, you will not need to submit an application for a license.
  • It is unclear whether you mainly dewater groundwater or rainwater – you will need further data to determine whether a license is needed.
  • It can be clearly identified that your quarry mainly or wholly deals with groundwater – in this case, you will need to submit an application to the EA.

How Long Will A License Last?

The duration of your abstraction license may vary depending on your area. However, if you are being granted a license for the first time, it will likely last between 6 and 18 years. Then, a renewal will tend to last another 12 years. If the EA believes that you only need a license for a short period, they can also offer short duration licenses.

How Do I Apply?

There are four different types of water abstraction license, and to make the application form quick, it's best to get it right the first time. The types of licenses are:

  • Full licenses – this will cover most quarries, as it covers more than 20 cubic meters a day
  • Transfer licenses – allows you to move more than 20 cubic metres a day between sources without intervening uses
  • Temporary license – means you can abstract more than 20 cubic metres for less than 28 days
  • Impoundment license – allows you to create an impoundment structure such as a dam, weir, or sluice

If you fail to apply for a water abstraction license, it will be regarded as an offence, and the EA has the right to take enforcement action against you and your business. This can include civil sanctions and fines of up to £20,000.

Apply for your water abstraction license today so that your new quarry can get up and running as soon as possible. Atlantic Pumps can help you by connecting you to the monitoring system EnviroHub, a cloud-based solution that monitors and reports on water quality, alerting you to any problems. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.

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