Environmental management – guidance

Water management: apply for a water abstraction or impoundment licence

Use this guidance and these forms to apply for a water abstraction or impoundment licence.

Apply for a licence

If you need a licence to abstract or impound water, you should complete and return the water abstraction or impoundment preliminary enquiry form to seek advice from the Environment Agency before you complete the formal application form.

They can provide up to 15 hours of pre-application advice free. During this time they will advise if you’re likely to exceed this. After 15 hours you will be charged £125 per hour.

Investigating a groundwater source

If you plan to abstract groundwater from a borehole or well, contact the Environment Agency before you make an application. It may be necessary to apply for a separate consent to construct the borehole or well and complete a test pumping of it.

Source owners and their contractors are responsible for ensuring boreholes or wells are designed, constructed and decommissioned in such a way as to prevent groundwater becoming polluted.

Environment Agency Customer Contact Centre:

Telephone: 03708 506 506 (call charges).

Temporary abstraction licence

To abstract more than 20 cubic metres of water per day lasting less than 28 days, read the application guidance and complete application for a temporary licence.

Transfer abstraction licence

To abstract more than 20 cubic metres of water per day to transfer it from one source of supply to another without intervening use, read the application guidance and complete both forms:

Full abstraction licence

To abstract more than 20 cubic metres of water per day for a period of more than 28 days, read the application guidance and complete both forms:

Impoundment licence

To impound water read the application guidance and complete both forms:

If you don’t apply for a licence

It’s your responsibility to apply for a licence if and when you need one. It is an offence to abstract or impound water without a licence. The Environment Agency may take enforcement action against you in such cases.

Cost of a licence application

When you apply for a new licence, or want to vary your existing licence, you have to pay an application fee. Fees and charges are set out in our abstraction charging scheme.

Some applications have to be advertised. If this applies to your application, you will need to pay a £100 administration fee to the Environment Agency to advertise your application in the local newspaper. You will also have to pay the cost of the advert.

View our current notices of water resources licence applications.

Annual fees may also be payable – see managing your licence.

Fees and charges subject to change each April.

After the Environment Agency has received your application

Temporary licence applications will be determined within 28 days. All other licence applications will be determined within 4 months.

They will let you know whether or not they will grant you a licence and explain their decision.

The licence will contain the conditions you must follow in order to legally abstract or impound water.

View our current notices of water resources licence applications.