Water abstraction licence

As of April 2005, abstractions of less than 20m3/day do not require licensing by the Environment Agency. If the abstraction is greater than 20m3/day a water abstraction licence will be required, and this is something we can manage for you as it can be a protracted affair to apply, and its complexity is often daunting.

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Please note, the Environment Agency does have the authority to set a lower limit for an abstraction licence in certain areas of the country, and we are obliged to inform the British Geological Survey of the construction of any boreholes greater than 15m in depth.

If you need us to, we will quote you for each stage of the follow process separately – but rest assured, we will ease your path from obtaining an abstraction licence to having a fully operational borehole and our experience will ensure that the length of the process is minimised and that your water bill savings start as soon as possible.

Obtaining a water abstraction licence and installing a borehole: 6 steps to your private water supply:

Stage 1: Section 32 Application to the Environment Agency (EA)

Submit Section 32 to the EA requesting permission to drill and test pump a borehole. A map of 1:10000 or greater must be marked with the exact position of the borehole and details given of the underlying geological sequence, depth, diameter, method of construction, disposal of waste, projected flow rates etc.  Igne can undertake all this for you on receipt of the map.

Stage 2: Water features survey (WFS)

Undertake water features survey to the satisfaction of the EA detailing all existing ground water and surface water features within a radius defined by them. This must encompass water wells, springs, boreholes, ponds, rivers, wetland features and any other area of interest that could possibly have a bearing on this application.

Stage 3: Drilling of borehole and pump installation

These works cannot be undertaken until we are in receipt of the requisite consents from the EA.

Stage 4: Pump testing and associated monitoring

Undertake pump test of borehole and monitor all sources identified by the water features survey. Duration of pump test will be determined by the EA. This stage of the process is undertaken jointly between you and us. The recording of data upon start-up is intensive and we find that input during this early stage is invaluable.

Stage 5: Analysis of test pumping data

Undertake analysis of all test pumping data from pumping well and monitoring points. Some regions of the EA will undertake this service In-house and make no charge: however, be aware that certain areas will not!  We can also provide this service in a format that is acceptable to the EA.

Stage 6: Advertising

Advertise abstraction in local press and the London Gazette. Again, this needs to be precise in its presentation—any variation or deviation will not be acceptable to the EA.


Upon submission of the Section 32, the Environment Agency should respond with the radius for the water features survey within 15 days.  

Allow 7 days for the WFS to be undertaken and the report submitted to the EA. The EA should process this within a further 15 days. No engineering work must start prior to receipt of the drilling consent.

The EA request 7 days’ notice prior to commencement of drilling. The EA request 14 days’ notice prior to commencement of test pumping.  The EA then have 3 months in which to decide a licence.

Conclusion – and reassurances

Rest assured the team at Igne has helped more commercial and residential clients obtain abstraction licenses than you’ve had hot dinners.  We are best placed to help you, please just give us a call to discuss your project – we look forward to speaking to you.