Final reminder for 2015 water abstraction data returns

date01 December 2015

Licence holders who have abstracted water for irrigating crops and fields during 2015, are being reminded that data returns should be submitted to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) before 31 December 2015.

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Data returns are a mandatory requirement for licence holders, to ensure over abstraction doesn’t threaten the ecology of Scotland’s rivers and reservoirs. The data is also a key indicator of compliance, and  the recent Compliance Assessment Scheme for 2014 highlighted that only 80% of irrigation  abstractors returned their data forms, leading to 131 licence holders being classified as non-compliant.

SEPA has made it easier for licence holders to submit their water abstraction data returns, which can now be done by downloading a template form directly from our website. Once complete, the forms can be emailed directly to Data can still be submitted in a paper form to the SEPA Arbroath office, however an electronic copy would be preferred where possible.

Stuart McGowan, SEPA Unit Manager, said:

“We can’t stress enough how important these data returns are for operators. They form a vital part of the licence requirements and data is expected from each operator, even if it’s a nil return.

“This is a straightforward process which can take minutes to complete as daily abstraction figures should have been recorded during the irrigation season. Those who do not return data by the 31 December could be liable to enforcement action. In addition, complying with the conditions of an abstraction licence is part of cross compliance and not submitting a data return could result in a penalty being applied to support scheme payments administered by the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Division (SGRPID). SEPA and SGRPID have no wish to take action and hence we are reminding people now.”

SEPA is working with the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS), Scottish Land and Estates, Scottish Tenant Farmers Association and SGRPID in order to ensure all license holders are aware of the deadline. As part of the awareness drive SEPA has written to all irrigation license holders to remind them of their obligation to submit data.

When planning for the 2016 season, licence holders who do not intend to abstract water for irrigation can apply for a cessation of charges by notifying their local SEPA’ office before the end of February, using the notification form on the webpage.