Irrigation data return deadline extended to end of January - make sure you return yours

date23 January 2014

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is urging farmers and land managers to submit their irrigation data returns as soon as possible, following an extension of the deadline to 31 January.

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The data is a very important part of licensing, enabling the organisation to make an accurate assessment of the environmental impact of irrigation. It will also inform future decisions about regulation of this sector.

Colin Anderson, SEPA Area Manager, said:

The number of data returns submitted for the 2013 growing season by the due date of 31 December 2013 is still being assessed, but it appears we have received less than 50% of the number required.

“We’re disappointed with this rate of returns, especially given the fact that 2013 was a very dry summer and rivers were put under some pressure. The 2012 review of licences spelt out very clearly that data returns for each location is a requirements of a CAR licence for irrigation. We do recognise the pressures on the agricultural community, and appreciate that the recent wet weather may have put thoughts of irrigation out of people’s minds, but we really do need this information. This is why we have extended the period for data returns this year to 31 January.

“Even if you have not abstracted any water in 2013 it is a licence requirement that you make a nil return so that we can assess actual water usage. We have made it easier this year to make a nil return by only having to tick one box on the data return form. We have also been working with the relevant farming organisations to help get the message out to their members and data return forms were sent out in September last year as a reminder.”

SEPA encourages electronic (email) submission of data returns via our website. If you prefer to use this means for reporting your data then please visit our website and follow the instructions given on the webpage. Manual submission of forms is also possible

Compliance with a CAR licence will be assessed under SEPA’s Compliance Assessment Scheme. In addition, agricultural irrigation is covered under the cross compliance scheme and therefore SEPA is required to report any non-compliances with licenses to Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Division (SGRPID). SGRPID would determine any appropriate action to be taken.

Land managers are also being reminded that if they do not intend to grow water dependent crops in 2014, and therefore know that they will not be abstracting, they can apply for an exemption from subsistence charges. This is subject to the necessary application form, available via the web address above, being completed and submitted to SEPA by the end of February.

It should be noted that the exemption from charging lasts for one year only and people must reapply in writing in the subsequent year if they wish to avoid charges.

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