Abstraction Licences for Trickle Irrigation


From January 2018, growers who abstract water from streams/rivers or groundwater, for the purpose of trickle irrigation, require an abstraction licence. Anyone can apply for a new licence at any time.

However, for anyone who was already abstracting for trickle irrigation before January 2018, there are transition arrangements that allow abstraction to continue while a new abstraction licence is being sorted out. These apply to abstractors operating before January 2018 and only cover the quantities and rates of abstraction that can be justified between 1st January 2011 and 31st December 2017.

An application must be accepted as valid by the Environment Agency by 31st December 2019. If the application is not accepted by that date then abstraction would have to stop and an application made following the conventional route. This would take a minimum of 4 months during which growers could not continue to abstract.

It has come to the attention of AHDB that only 10% of the number of growers expected to have applied, have done so at this stage. The Environment Agency is beginning to worry that lots of applications may be submitted at the last minute and won’t be able to be corrected if there are any problems. It may be that some irrigators will forget to apply for a licence at all.

AHDB has featured information on this in its Grower Magazine and put together a presentation (with the EA and NFU) last year.

Growers abstracting for trickle irrigation should therefore submit an application without delay and by June at the latest. There are organisations who offer help to growers to complete applications. Anyone who requires contact details of such organisations should contact Nicola Dunn at AHDB at Nicola.dunn@ahdb.org.uk.