Apply for a water abstraction or impoundment licence

Coronavirus update


Our staff are now home working wherever possible. This means we can't accept paper application forms at this time. You will be able to submit forms via email and if required you can make payments via BACS.


You will need Microsoft Word 2010 or equivalent to be able to use the electronic forms.


Whilst we hope to keep disruption to a minimum, please be aware there may be a longer processing time during this period of transition.


Find out more about our response to coronavirus

How to apply for an abstraction or impoundment licence

To apply for your licence:

  • download the correct application forms
  • complete all relevant parts of the form, using the guidance notes
  • send us all the supporting information we need to process your application
  • pay the correct fee

We will not be able to accept your application if you have not completed all the steps above.

Hydropower - if you are applying for a licence for a hydropower scheme you may need to apply for more than one type of licence. Read more about applying for hydropower licences.

Help to apply

If you need help or want to check issues before you send us a formal application, you can apply for pre-application advice.

How much will it cost?

Application charge - you will need to pay an application fee when you send us your application:

Fee Type


When applicable

Lower application fee


For all full abstraction licences excluding those for the purpose of Hydroelectric Power Generation (this does not include temporary abstraction licences or transfer licences).

Higher application Fee


For impoundment licences, temporary abstraction licences and transfer licences.


Hydroelectric power generation - Tiered charges, based on capacity

Scheme capacity


25 kW of Less


>25 to 50 kW


>50 to 100 kW


>100 kW



Find further details on application charges.

Where applications for an abstraction licence and an impoundment licence for associated activities are jointly submitted, a single application fee will be charged in accordance with the charging scheme.

Advertising charge - your application may need to be advertised, we will ask you to pay us a £100 administration fee and the cost of the advertisement, if needed.

Annual charge - most abstraction licences are subject to an annual charge as stated in our Abstraction Charges Scheme. If you abstract water for spray or trickle irrigation you may be able to apply for a two-part tariff once your licence has been issued. Schedule 2 of the Abstraction Charges Schemes tells you what conditions you need to meet and how the charge is calculated. To apply for a two-part tariff complete the application form.

How long will it take to make a decision on an application?

Abstraction or impoundment licence - we will make a decision on your application within 4 months of receiving a complete application, or 3 months if we do not need to advertise it.

Temporary abstraction licences - we will make a decision within 20 working days.

Information to send us with your application

You will need to send us a location map for any licence application. Other information you need to send us will depend on the type of application.

Abstraction licence applications:

You must have a legal right of access to the point of abstraction and provide us with evidence that you are entitled to apply, read supporting guidance note SGN1 for help.

Groundwater abstraction licence application:

Groundwater impact assessment - you must send us a report detailing the results of the pumping test and an assessment of the effect your proposed abstraction would have on the local environment. Read the Environment Agency’s ‘Hydrogeological Impact Appraisal for groundwater abstractions’ to help you or the Environment Agency’s ‘Hydrogeological Impact Appraisal for dewatering abstractions’ if you’re proposing to dewater a sump or excavation.

Hydropower applications:

Stage 1 geomorphology photosurvey – you must complete this and send it to us with your pre-application enquiry or your formal application for a licence. We also need you to submit one if you apply for a variation to increase the quantities you wish to abstract. For further information and help read our hydropower guidance.

Application forms and guidance

Find the application forms needed to apply for pre-application advice or a licence below, as well as guidance to help you complete your application.

For a pre-application enquiry download and fill in form WRA.

For a groundwater investigation consent, download and fill in form WRC.

For a full or temporary abstraction licence or to renew or transfer a licence:

For a technical variation of an abstraction licence:

For an impoundment licence or to remove an impoundment, download form WRA and form WRE.

For an administrative variation of an impoundment or abstraction licence download form WRF.

To transfer, apportion or cancel an impoundment licence, download form WRF.

For spray/trickle irrigation only (two part tariff), download form WRG.

Send us your application

Send your completed application forms and any supporting information,

by email to:

Once you have a licence

Your licence will specify conditions you need to follow to be able to abstract or impound legally. This may include a need to complete and submit to us water abstraction returns.

Most abstraction licences will have an expiry date, however we can apply a shorter duration time limit on a licence or in certain circumstances we may agree to a longer duration time limit.

Impoundment licences do not expire.

We must receive the application to renew your licence or time-limited condition in your licence at least 3 months before your licence is due to expire.

Related document downloads

Form WRA Applicant details and proposal outline WORD [164.7 KB]
Form WRC Application for a consent to investigate a groundwater source WORD [187.7 KB]
Form WRD Application for a new abstraction licence or a technical variation to an abstraction licence WORD [160.1 KB]
Form WRE Application for a new impoundment licence, technical variation to an impoundment licence or the removal of an existing impoundment WORD [146.3 KB]
Form WRF Application for an administrative variation to an existing licence WORD [180.1 KB]
Form WRG Irrigation Charges - Application for two-part tariff WORD [131.5 KB]
Guidance note WRC Applying for a consent to investigate a groundwater source PDF [60.8 KB]
Guidance note WRX Water resources application guidance notes PDF [640.4 KB]