The Government’s consultation on abstraction licence reform was a useful first step but more work is needed with Defra officials and other key stakeholders to fully understand the impacts of the proposals.
Generally, the current abstraction regime has worked well for public water supply, and the regulator Ofwat has ensured this supply is affordable. However, water companies are not the only abstractors of water resources and there are opportunities to improve the current system.
Areas of concern
- The proposed options appear to be more complex than the current system and increased administrative costs would be reflected in higher abstraction licence charges.
- There is no assessment of how the proposals would impact the amount of water available to companies to meet demand in dry years and the consequent impact on water resource and drought management plans and investment programmes.
- There is little consideration of the need for greater strategic planning in the provision of storage or its costs and of Government’s role in the deployment of large-scale interconnection and storage assets.
We expect and anticipate further public consultation.