B4.9.3 Water Abstraction


If you intend to abstract more than 20 cubic metres (4,000 gallons) of water per day from a river, stream, canal or underground source, you will most likely need an abstraction licence from the Environment Agency.

Activities that are exempt from abstraction licensing include fire fighting, other emergency activities and some land drainage uses.

If the abstraction will be for less than 28 days, you may apply for a temporary abstraction licence.

If the abstraction will last longer than 28 days, you will need a full abstraction licence.

There are three types of charges associated with abstraction licences:

  • Application charge
    • A fixed charge, payable by everyone applying for any licence to abstract or impound water, or for a variation to an existing licence, and is due at the point of application.


  • Advertising administration charge
    • Where the Environment Agency have to place an advert as part of determining an application they will charge the applicant to recover the administration costs.


  • Subsistence charge
    • Payable by everyone who holds a licence to abstract or impound water and is due on 1st April of each year or, in the year the consent is authorised, is due on demand.
    • This is calculated dependant upon the following factors:
      • Volume – annual licensed volume (in ‘000 cubic metres).
      • Source – unsupported, supported or tidal.
      • Season – summer, winter or all year.
      • Loss – high, medium, low or very low.
      • Standard unit charge (SUC) – charge for the region in which the abstraction is authorised to be made.
      • Environmental Improvement unit charge (EUIC) – charge to recover the costs of compensation payments.