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Written Statement - Reforming the Water Abstraction Licensing system

Carl Sargeant, Minister for Natural Resources

Water is a vital resource and one of our greatest natural assets, supporting our diverse wildlife, our health and our economic development, in industries such as tourism, energy supply and food production. This is why it is so important we work to continue safeguarding access to clean, safe and resilient water supplies now and for future generations. Ensuring our resources are managed efficiently and sustainability, in order to maximise the benefits for all.

As part of our approach to guaranteeing this takes place the Welsh Government has been working with DEFRA, Natural Resources Wales and the Environment Agency to explore the need for reform of the licensing system which controls the abstraction of water from the natural environment and possible options for a more flexible an modern licensing system for the future.

This project resulted in a joint Welsh Government and DEFRA consultation launched in December 2013. The consultation put forward two options and also sought to understand if stakeholders in Wales agreed with the need to reform the system.

A summary of the consultation responses was published, jointly with DEFRA, in July this year with a large number of responses being received from a wide range of sectors. Consultation responses from Welsh stakeholders and feedback from a series of workshops showed that there is a strong policy case as well as broad support for the reform of the abstraction licensing system in Wales. 

The evidence and support we have received through the consultation show there is a strong case for reform of the water abstraction licensing system in Wales. This will ensure that we have enough water to meet our current and future needs for drinking water, for business in order to support economic growth and to protect our environment.

We will now start to look in detail at the options for introducing a reformed abstraction licencing system, in collaboration with National Resources Wales and DEFRA. We will ensure that those affected are updated accordingly.