DAERA urges businesses, farmers and councils to use water wisely

Date published: 10 July 2018

With the current spell of warm and dry weather continuing, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has urged businesses, councils and farmers to use water wisely and be aware of regulations for drawing water from source.


Rivers, lakes and wetlands are key features of the landscape, which support diverse and internationally important habitats of plant and animal life. In order to protect plants, animals and to manage the use of water resources, the licensing of abstractions (taking water from a water source) and impoundments (a pool of water formed by a dam or pond) to supply water for livestock or wildlife, are important and necessary.

The Water Abstraction and Impoundment (Licensing) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006, came fully into force in February 2007. These regulations establish a management system for the use of water within industry and agriculture, and, at the same time, support the protection of NI’s water based ecosystems.

As this period of warm and dry weather continues the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has streamlined its procedures to more rapidly respond to farmers, small businesses and local councils who have an urgent need of water at this time. Where the protection of a crop needs irrigation, animals require drinking water, or a new recreational area needs sprinklers to be established, then NIEA will do its best to assist.

Dependant on the daily volume required the following actions can be taken; 

  • Under the current legislation, if a business / farm needs up to 10,000 litres per day (2200 gallons), then that is automatically permitted and the activity can proceed. If this low volume abstraction is to be taken from a waterway or lake, then the abstractor will be asked to install a still well. Pumping from a still well will prevent animal life or fish from being impacted. Advice on how to do this will be provided by NIEA.
  • If a business, farm or local council requires a daily volume between 10,000 and 20,000 litres or 2200 to 4400 gallons per day, then the business, farm or council will need to notify NIEA and indicate by map or grid reference where the proposed abstraction point is to be. There is no fee for this notification and NIEA will respond to you in writing.
  • If a business, farm or local council requires greater than 20,000 litres (4400 gallons) per day then a full licence is required. An authorisation like this can be granted for a seasonal period. The application fee for this type of full authorisation is £157.

For all enquiries or further assistance please contact Mr Peter Close, NIEA Water Resources Team on 028 92 633462 or via email to AIL@daera-ni.gov.uk.

Download guidance on licencing regulations.

Download an agricultural ‘water use’ ready reckoner.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.
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  3. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office: pressoffice.group@daera-ni.gov.uk. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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