Consultation outcome

Reforming the water abstraction management system: making the most of every drop

This consultation has concluded

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Government response

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What would reform mean for abstractors?

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Detail of outcome

We received 318 responses to this consultation and published a summary of responses in July 2014.

We published the government response to the consultation in January 2016. The government response explains the reform approach, our reasoning and how we have responded to stakeholders’ comments on the consultation.

We’ve also published the two impact assessments (IAs) referred to in the consultation response, ‘Future Water Resources Management: Reform of the Water Abstraction Regulation System’ and ‘Water Company Discharges’. The reports that provided the evidence for the IAs were published on Defra’s Science and Projects website.

The document ‘What Would Reform Mean for Abstractors?’ provides an explanation of how a reformed abstraction management system would directly affect how they are regulated. Each change we are making to the current system is explained in detail in this document. It is meant for all abstractors, with varying types of licence, from small farming businesses to water companies.

Original consultation

This consultation ran from to

Summary

Seeking views on proposals to reform the system used to manage removing water from rivers and groundwater across England and Wales.

This consultation was held on another website

Consultation description

This consultation is seeking views on proposed changes to how we manage water abstraction in England and in Wales.

The reforms proposed in this consultation are designed to make the system more flexible and resilient to future pressures. It builds on actions we are already taking to tackle unsustainable abstraction. We want to make sure that any new system would:

  • increase the amount of water that can be used by systematically linking access to water to water availability;
  • incentivise abstractors to manage water efficiently;
  • help abstractors to trade available water effectively, ensuring that we get the most value out of our water and do not waste water which could be used;
  • ensure we have a more effective process to review licences, striking the right balance between providing regulatory certainty for abstractors and managing environmental risk;
  • incentivise abstractors to manage risks from future pressures on water resources, increasing their own resilience and that of river catchments.

We have identified two main options for reform, which we have developed through working closely with stakeholders. We have called these “Current System Plus” and “Water Shares”.

The UK government is committed to introducing a reformed water abstraction management system in England able to promote resilient economic growth while protecting the environment.

This consultation will be of interest to anyone who is concerned about the management of water in England and in Wales.