Apply for a water abstraction or impoundment licence

Before applying for an abstraction or impoundment licence, please read

Find out if you need a licence to abstract or impound water.


What to do before applying for a water abstraction or impoundment licence

to check you need a licence and to prepare the information you need to submit with your application forms.

If you are applying for a licence for a hydropower scheme, please also read our hydropower guidance before submitting your application.

To apply for your licence:

  • complete the relevant online application forms
  • send us all the supporting information
  • pay the correct fee

You need to complete all the steps above before we can accept your application.

Application forms

The application forms required depend on the type of licence you are applying for as shown below. If you are submitting multiple applications for the same scheme, only one WRA is required.

Licence to abstract

For an abstraction licence (including a full licence, transfer licence or temporary licence):



Licence to impound

For an impoundment licence (including a licence to remove an impoundment):



Spray irrigation abstraction

If your licence is to abstract water for spray  irrigation, you may be able to apply for a two part tariff agreement once your licence has been issued.

Schedule 2 of our Abstraction Charges Scheme contains further information on the conditions you need to meet and how the charge is calculated.

If you want to apply for a two-part tariff you need to complete and submit the Two-Part Tariff application form.


How much will it cost?

For information on application fees, advertising charges and annual fees please see our Charges for abstraction and impoundment applications page.

How long will it take to make a decision on my application?

If you have applied for an abstraction or impoundment licence, we will make a decision on your application within 4 months of receiving a complete application if advertising is needed, or 3 months if advertising is not needed.

If you have applied for a temporary abstraction licence, we will make a decision on your application within 20 working days.

Help to apply

If you still need help or want to check issues before you send us a formal application, you can apply for pre application advice.

Once you have a licence

Your licence will specify conditions you need to follow to be able to abstract or impound legally. You should read your licence carefully and keep it in a safe place.

Abstraction returns

Your abstraction licence conditions may mean you need to complete and send water abstraction returns to us annually or when we ask for them.

Time limits

Impoundment licences do not expire.

Any abstraction licence issued will be time limited. If your abstraction licence has an expiry date in accordance with the relevant Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy it will have a presumption of renewal where the following tests are met:

  • continued environmental sustainability
  • continued justification of need for the water
  • water is used efficiently

We must receive the application to renew your licence or time-limited condition in your licence at least 3 months before your licence is due to expire.

If your abstraction licence is issued as a short duration licence, it will not carry a presumption of renewal.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

For details on how we use information about you, how we protect your privacy and the rights you have as to how we handle your personal data please see our Privacy Notice page.

Public Register

Natural Resources Wales is required to keep a register of licences and supporting documents including the name and address of the applicant, the date of the application and brief particulars of its proposals except where exclusions apply. You can access the Water Resources public register on our Check for a permit, licence or exemption (Public Register) page.

Exclusions of confidential information or information affecting national security

When submitting your application you may give us notice stating that in your opinion the inclusion of the information on a public register would be contrary to the interests of national security, or may be commercially confidential.

To support this you must provide us with a statement or documents detailing why you believe the exclusions apply. We will assess your reasons and decide if we can uphold your request. Where this is the case we will place on the public register a statement indicating the existence of the exempt information. Where we do not uphold your request we will inform you of our decision and any further options available to you to dispute our decision.


You can appeal to The Planning Inspectorate if:

  • you are not happy with the conditions we have included on your licence.
  • we refuse your application.
  • we do not process your application on time.
  • we serve notice on you regarding the type or number of applications you have applied for.

We will send details of how you can make an appeal when we begin and finish determining your application.


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