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Apply for a water abstraction or impoundment licence

How to apply for a new abstraction or impoundment licence

Before you apply

Surface water: If you have any enquiries regarding your proposal, we recommend you submit a pre-application Form WRA. This will allow us to assess your plans and tell you how successful your application is likely to be.

Groundwater: If you have enquiries regarding a ground water abstraction, we recommend you speak with our Geoscience team first or see Form and Guidance Note WRC to apply for a Consent to Investigate a Groundwater Source (Section 32 consent under the Water Resources Act 1991).  If you are proposing to dewater a sump or excavation your application must be supported by a hydrogeological impact assessment.  We refer you to ‘Hydrogeological impact appraisal for dewatering abstractions’ (Environment Agency, April 2007) for guidance on producing this impact assessment.    

Temporary licence

To abstract water for any purpose lasting less than 28 consecutive days, please complete forms WRA and WRD using guidance note WRX. We aim to process temporary licences within 28 days.

New abstraction and transfer licences, variations to existing licences, or renewal of a time-limited licence

To abstract water for any purpose over a period of more than 28 days please complete forms WRA and WRD using guidance note WRX. You also need to complete these forms for an application for a formal variation to your abstraction licence.

We aim to process these types of licence applications within three months. If we need to advertise your application, this adds an extra month to the process.

Transfer licence: If you plan to abstract water, but only for the purpose of transferring it from one source of supply to another (or the same source but at a different point) without an intervening use for a period of more than 28 days.

Full abstraction licence: If you plan to abstract water for any purpose over a period of more than 28 days, which is not covered by the other types of abstraction licence.

Variation to existing licence: If you plan to change the components of your existing licence. Some examples of this could include increasing the abstraction quantities, moving the point of abstraction, or changing the purpose of abstraction.

Renewal of a time-limited licence: If you want to renew a time-limited licence nearing expiry, you must complete the application forms provided above and send them to us at least 3 months before your existing licence is due to expire. If you submit your application after this time, there is a risk that we may not be able to renew your licence. If there is likely to be any difficulty in granting you a replacement licence or we need you to provide any extra information to support your application, we will tell you when we receive your application.

Please send your application to us:


Impoundment licences

If you plan to construct, alter or remove an impounding structure (weir or dam), please read the guidance on low risk impounding.

Regulatory Position Statement - low risk impounding policy

If your proposal is not exempt under the guidance above, please complete forms WRA and WRE. Please complete the forms using guidance note WRX. We aim to process impoundment licence applications within three months. If we need to advertise your application, this adds an extra month to the process.

The Reservoirs Act 1975

If you are planning an impoundment that will create a reservoir able to hold at least 10,000 cubic metres above the natural level of any part of the surrounding land The Reservoirs Act 1975 may apply. The Reservoirs Act 1975 provides a legal framework to ensure the safety against failure of large raised reservoirs. Under the Reservoirs Act 1975 reservoir owners and operators (known as undertakers) have ultimate responsibility for the safety of their reservoirs.
Reservoir undertakers must register their reservoir with us, and if designated by us as a high risk reservoir the undertakers will be required to appoint a panel engineer (a specialist civil engineer who is qualified and experienced in reservoir safety) to supervise the design and construction of the reservoir, to continuously supervise the reservoir when built (supervising engineer) and to carry out periodic inspections (inspecting engineer).
For reservoirs below the threshold of 10,000 cubic metres, the Reservoirs Act does not apply, however they may be subject to safety regulation managed by the Health and Safety Executive (under the Health and Safety at Work (etc.) Act 1974) and local authorities (under the Building Act 1984).
For more details about the Reservoirs Act 1975 please visit our reservoir safety pages: or contact our Reservoir Safety team at


If you apply for a new licence, or want to increase the amount of water you can abstract under your existing licence, you have to pay an application fee. You pay this when you submit your application. Please make cheques payable to ‘Natural Resources Wales’ and please do not send cash. See guidance note WRX for alternative means of payment.

Some applications have to be advertised. If we need to give notice of your application, you need to pay an additional administration fee of £100 and pay us for advertising your application in the local newspaper.

Most abstraction licences also attract an annual charge. To estimate your annual bill or for all the details of our charges please view our Abstraction Charges Scheme.

Where do I send my application form?

Please send your application to us

by email:

by post:
Permit Receipt Centre, Natural Resources Wales, Tŷ Cambria, 29 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0EY




Related document downloads

Form WRA Applicant details and proposal outline WORD [164.7 KB]
Form WRC Application for a consent to investigate a groundwater source WORD [187.7 KB]
Form WRD Application for a new abstraction licence or a technical variation to an abstraction licence WORD [160.1 KB]
Form WRE Application for a new impoundment licence, technical variation to an impoundment licence or the removal of an existing impoundment WORD [146.3 KB]
Form WRF Application for an administrative variation to an existing licence WORD [180.1 KB]
Form WRG Irrigation Charges - Application for two-part tariff WORD [131.5 KB]
Guidance note WRC Applying for a consent to investigate a groundwater source PDF [60.8 KB]
Guidance note WRX Water Resources application forms PDF [327.6 KB]

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