Final reminder for 2016 water abstraction data returns

date20 December 2016

Licence holders who have abstracted water to irrigate their crops and fields during 2016, are being encouraged to submit data returns to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) before 31 December 2016.

Data returns are a mandatory requirement for licence holders, to ensure over abstraction of water doesn’t threaten the ecology of Scotland’s rivers and reservoirs. The data is also a key indicator of compliance and forms an important component of SEPA’s annual Compliance Assessment Scheme. To date, only 60% of the expected data returns have been received compared to 70% at this point last year in 2015.

Completing and submitting a data return is a simple process and  can be downloaded  easily by  licence holders directly from our website and then emailed directly to WRDataReturns@sepa.org.uk once completed.  Data can still be submitted in a paper form to the SEPA Arbroath office, however where possible, an electronic copy would be preferred.

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 requirement for abstracting water 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, resulting  in a penalty being applied to support scheme payments administered by the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID).

“To avoid such penalties, we would encourage licence holders to check their paperwork and submit the data returns before January.”

SEPA is working with the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS), Scottish Land and Estates, Scottish Tenant Farmers Association and RPID 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 2017 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.


Ends

Notes to Editors

  • Online data return forms can be found here: www.sepa.org.uk/regulations/water/abstractions/#five

  • As a condition of receiving support scheme payments, including the Basic Payment Scheme, land managers have to comply with a set of requirements known as cross compliance. Abstracting water for irrigation, including submitting a data return, first became part of cross compliance on 1 January 2010. More information on cross compliance can be found on the Rural Payments and Inspections website:

    https://www.ruralpayments.org/publicsite/futures/topics/inspections/all-inspections/cross-compliance/
  • For more information on the requirements for water abstraction, details of the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 can be found:

    www.sepa.org.uk/media/34800/introduction-to-the-controlled-activities-regulations.pdf
  • Compliance Assessment Scheme result 2015 - The Compliance Assessment Scheme (CAS) outlines how well permitted operators in Scotland have met the conditions of their licences on an annual basis and helps SEPA to identify problem areas which require greater focus for improvement. Introduced in 2009, the scheme covers operators with Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Part A and Part B permits, Waste Management Licences (WML), Controlled Activity Regulations (CAR) discharges and sites licensed under the Radioactive Substances Act (RSA).


For information on the 2015 results, check out our website apps.sepa.org.uk/compliance/