Before you apply for a drought permit or drought order
Prepare and publish a drought plan
If you plan to apply for a drought permit or order you should first state this clearly in your drought plan. You must include details of all the possible drought permits and orders you might apply for under the range of droughts that you have planned for. The presence of a permit or order in your plan and the supporting information you include in your published plan will form part of the justification of need when you come to formally apply for it.
Your drought plan should include an environmental assessment for the permit or order. This should also include details of how the permit or order is likely to change water flow or water level regimes. It should explain how these changes could affect any features that are sensitive to them.
You will have to carry out monitoring at your own expense. In exceptional cases the Natural Resources Wales can also carry out monitoring (for which costs can be recovered).
It is expected that your drought permit and drought order applications are as ‘application ready’ as possible ahead of time and included within your drought plan. You will need to engage early with us, in addition to possible objectors, to ensure that any issues and requirements (such as monitoring, mitigation and compensation) are identified in advance of any application being submitted.
You must follow your drought plan at all times during a drought.
Reduce demand for water
Before you apply for a drought permit or order you must limit customer demand on any affected water sources.
Do this by taking the following measures, which you should have set out in your drought plan:
- carry out a publicity campaign to let the public know what you’ll do to reduce demand
- temporarily restrict water use
- control leaks
- reduce water pressure
You may not have to take each of these measures if it will:
- only result in minimal water savings
- have little beneficial effect on the environment
If you decide not to take these measures you should explain why in your application for the drought permit or order.
Write an environmental report
Before applying for a drought permit, order or emergency order you must write an environmental report, which you’ll have to send with your application. You should base this on:
- the environmental assessments in your drought plan
- your environmental monitoring plan
The content of the environmental report will depend on the circumstances of the drought. Details of what is required in the environmental report can be found in the Water Company Drought Plan Technical Guidance. Contact Natural Resources Wales if you need further advice on how to write your report.
An environmental report should generally include:
- a summary of the report in non-technical language
- a description of the proposal, including details of the site where you’ll use the permit or order, its location (provide maps and plans) and how long you’ll use it
- a brief statement explaining why you need the water
- details of the alternative water sources you’ve considered – this should provide justification for your application
It should also include:
- a description of the current environment
- a description of the likely effects of the permit or order on the current environment
- a description of what you’ll do to reduce any negative effects on the environment
- any further information needed to assess the effects of the permit or order on a Habitats Directive site (a special area of conservation (SAC) or special protection area (SPA))
- any further information needed to assess the effects of the permit or order on a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), local nature reserve (LNR), national nature reserve (NNR) or marine conservation area (MCA)
- any further information about the effects of the permit or order on water users and the environment
- a monitoring plan, as mentioned in your drought plan – including details of the data you’ll collect and where and when you’ll collect it
- any mitigation or compensatory measures (if applicable)
Your description of the current environment should include details of:
- any features on the site
- the importance of the site
- the site’s classification status under the Water Framework Directive (visit Water Watch Wales for further information)
- surface flow and groundwater levels
- the site’s sensitivity to flow or water level changes
- any current abstraction licences you hold
Your environmental report should also include:
- a conclusion summarising the case for and against your proposed use of a permit or order
- appendices (such as methods used and surveys planned)
You should carry out any preparatory work for your permit application before the drought occurs.
Consider applying for a winter drought permit
You can apply for a drought permit during the winter to:
- reduce the likelihood of having to use a permit or order the following summer
- replenish water resources that have become depleted due to drought
- protect water resources in an area affected by drought
As with ordinary drought permits you can only apply for a winter drought permit if there’s a serious water shortage or the threat of one due to an exceptional shortage of rain.
You must prove that the threat to public water supplies is significantly greater than usual for the time of year (such as by proving there’s been a rainfall deficit or using modelling to project future supply). You must also explain what you’ll do to reduce any adverse environmental impacts (such as a decrease in water quality) due to the implementation of the winter drought permit.
Apply for a winter drought permit in the same way you’d apply for an ordinary drought permit.
Applying for a site in Wales
Natural Resources Wales produces guidance on the steps of applying for drought permits and drought orders in Wales, in addition to the Water Company Drought Plan Technical Guidance (for companies wholly or mainly in Wales). Drought permits are determined by Natural Resources Wales and drought orders are determined by the Welsh Ministers. For further information read our guidance on:
Applying for a site in England
The Environment Agency produce guidance for England on applying for drought permits and drought orders, in addition to guidance on producing a drought plan (for companies wholly or mainly in England visit the Environment Agency website).
Applications for drought permits in England are determined by the Environment Agency.
Applications for ordinary drought orders or emergency drought orders in England are determined by the Secretary of State.
Any questions, comments, queries or objections relation to sites in England should be sent to the Environment Agency water resources permitting support centre.
Water Resources Permitting Support Centre
99 Parkway Avenue
Parkway Business Park
Drought order and emergency drought order applications in England should be sent to:
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Water Resources Policy
Seacole 3rd Floor
2 Marsham Street