Applying to abstract or impound water

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Details of the application process to obtain a licence to abstract or impound water from surface or groundwater and the fees and charges applicable.

Making an application for a licence

Before you make an application please read the following:

The abstraction of less than ten cubic metres per day are Permitted Controlled Activities and will be automatically authorised by Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

If your abstraction falls into this category you are not required to complete an application form or notify NIEA.

If the volume of water abstracted is above ten cubic metres per day, you are required to apply for authorisation under the Regulations and must complete an application form.

Hydropower

If your application applies to a hydropower scheme please supply the following with your application:

  • detailed site plan
  • abstraction and return point details
  • location and site map
  • site specific river flow data including a Flow Duration Curve (FDC)
  • details of the proposed abstraction regime including the proposed residual flow and river flow monitoring mechanism
  • details of the abstraction control structures and any proposed screening
  • the type of turbine to be installed, the turbine rating, the turbine efficiency, the peak design flow in cumecs (m3/sec) and any screening
  • length of depleted river stretch and details of any natural barriers in the depleted reach
  • length of pooling created behind any proposed new weir
  • details of any mitigation measures or enhancement features proposed for the depleted stretch
  • details of the impounding structure and any proposed fish pass
  • details of pollution prevention measures that will be taken during the construction phase of the proposal
  • details of any alterations being made either to the river profile or bank profile
  • details of any removal of vegetation,
  • details of sediment management proposals
  • a draft management plan for monitoring the operation of the scheme
     

The NIEA is keen to remind landowners and developers how important it is that schemes meet the necessary standards to protect the aquatic environment and to conform with planning requirements.

The Run-Off River Hydro Scheme Guidance is currently under review. New guidance is currently under construction in conjunction with a number of Government Departments and Agencies.

 

Modifying an existing licence

To apply for a modification to an existing licence please complete an application for a modification to a licence form.

All abstractions and/or impoundments must be compliant with the Water Abstraction and Impoundment (Licensing) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006.

Environmental impact assessment report

Agricultural water management projects, such as spray irrigation, which involve the impoundment, abstraction and/or diversion of water from surface, or underground sources of volumes greater than 200 cubic metres per day, may be required to submit an environmental impact assessment report to DAERA under the Water Resources (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017.

Surface water monitoring guidance

All operators who apply for a licence to abstract from surface water are required to produce a monitoring plan three months prior to commencement of the operation.

The water resource assessment flow data requirements will provide guidance on the hydrological information required from applicants in support of any abstraction application.

The Surface Water Abstraction Monitoring Plan Guidance will provide information to operators who have been granted a licence to abstract surface water on:

  • why monitoring of surface water abstraction is required
  • how to produce a monitoring plan
  • guidance on how to return monitoring data to NIEA

Groundwater monitoring guidance

All operators who apply for a licence to abstract from groundwater are required to produce a monitoring plan three months prior to commencement of the operation.

The Groundwater Abstraction Monitoring Plan Guidance will provide information to operators who have been granted a licence to abstract groundwater on:

  • why monitoring of groundwater abstraction is required
  • how to produce and implement a monitoring plan
  • guidance on deciding what types of monitoring are most appropriate for the site

The Compliance Assessment of Licence Conditions details the criteria that groundwater licence conditions will be assessed on to determine if an abstraction operator has complied with their licence conditions.

Fees and charges

The fees and charges scheme has been developed with the aim of recovering the full costs associated with implementing the Water Abstraction and Impoundment (Licensing) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006. The scheme comprises of application fees and annual charges.

Application Fees

The following charges apply:

  • a fee of £155 for all applications to abstract water of more than 20 cubic metres per day.
  • a fee of £34 for any modification to an existing licence.
  • no fee will be charged for applications to abstract water of between ten and 20 cubic metres per day. An application form, however, must still be submitted to NIEA
  • no action is necessary for an abstraction of less than ten cubic metres per day.  It is however necessary to comply with the Permitted Controlled Activities.

Payment method

Payment should be made with each application submitted.
Please make cheques/postal orders payable to 'DAERA NI'. Any application received  without the appropriate fee will be deemed incomplete and returned until the correct remittance is received.
Please do not send cash through the post.

Annual charge

An annual charge will only apply to licence holders who abstract more than 100 cubic metres per day. Reductions or exemptions may occur for small scale abstractions, including some farm businesses and fish farm operations.

NIEA will determine the correct annual charge based on the information submitted in the application form and by the conditions of the licence. An invoice for the annual charge will be issued in advance and will reflect abstractions made during the calendar year. Details of how to pay are explained on the invoice.

Data return

As a condition of the water abstraction/impoundment licence you may be required to record abstraction volumes on an annual basis.

Please complete the Data Return form and return to the Abstraction Team.

Water use ready reckoners

For further information on applications and fees, please contact the Abstraction and Impoundment Licensing Team.

 

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