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Stackyard News Mar 06

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    NFUS Demands Solution To Water Abstraction Mess

NFU Scotland has demanded an extension to the registration process for water abstraction, to sort out the confusion caused by the late announcement of the final details of the licensing scheme.

The final licensing scheme details were only announced today (31 March) and yet the deadline for initial registration also closes today. This means that applicants who have been unable to complete their registration because of lack of information about licences may have no option other than to apply for a licence at greater cost and undergo a risk assessment.

John Kinnaird, NFUS President, said:

“The consultation process on the licensing scheme has, at times, been a complete farce. It closed on 30 December and only today are the results being announced. This is far too late for farmers who have been trying to register but have been unable to do so because they have not had details of how the licensing scheme will operate – for example should they register irrigators or abstraction points. Having been held up in this way they are really having salt rubbed in the wound by the announcement today, which is too late to allow them to register and gives them no choice other than to apply for a licence.

“The solution is clear. The registration deadline must be extended so that the reduced fee of £134 still applies, “grandfather rights” are still applicable and there is no requirement for a risk assessment. Farmers must not be penalised for not having registered because they were still waiting for details from SEPA or the Scottish Executive.”

* Two distinct processes are involved in the Water Abstraction licensing scheme:

  • a) Firstly, applicants could have registered their existing water abstraction activities and thus obtained a licence. But to do so they needed details of how the licensing scheme would operate, for example should they register irrigators or abstraction points. The deadline for registration is today, 31 March 2006.
  • b) After this deadline applicants have no option to apply for a licence in the same way as if they were irrigating for the first time. This licensing process involves higher fees, the removal of “grandfather rights” and the possible requirement for a risk assessment to be carried out.
  • c) During the consultation process, and now confirmed by Ministers, NFUS won: 1. A reduction in the annual charge for use of an irrigator from £2232 to £446 (summer only) or £148 (winter). 2. The ability to transfer licenses to different places for a fee of £94. 3. Increased “banding” – the same charge applies between 100 and 2000 cubic metres per day usage. The earlier upper limit was only 1000 cubic metres.

link NFUS Told Water Abstraction Deadline Is Extended
link Pressure Pays Off As SEPA Amends Water Charges
link Water Abstraction Talks Continue

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National Farmers' Union
NFU Scotland