amend the Water Resources Act 1991 and the Water Industry Act 1991; to
make provision with respect to compensation under section 61 of the Water
Resources Act 1991; to provide for the establishment and functions of the
Water Services Regulation Authority and the Consumer Council for Water,
and for the abolition of the office of Director General of Water Services; to
make provision in connection with land drainage and flood defence; to amend
the Reservoirs Act 1975; to make provision about contaminated land so far as
it relates to the pollution of controlled waters; to confer on the Coal Authority
functions in relation to the discharge of water from coal mines; to extend the
functions of the Environment Agency in relation to the Rivers Esk, Sark and
Tweed and their tributaries so far as they are in England; and for connected
Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
Abstraction and impounding
Restrictions on abstraction and impounding
1 Licences to abstract water
(1) After section 24 of the Water Resources Act 1991 (c. 57) (in this Act referred to
as the “WRA”) there is inserted—
“24A Abstraction licences
(1) Each licence to abstract water shall be of one of the following three
(a) a licence to abstract water from one source of supply over a
period of twenty-eight days or more for any purpose (a “full
(b) a licence to abstract water from one source of supply over a
period of twenty-eight days or more for the purpose of
transferring water to another source of supply without
intervening use (a “transfer licence”);
(c) a licence to abstract water from one source of supply over a
period of less than twenty-eight days (a “temporary licence”).
(2) In this Act, a reference (however expressed) to a licence to abstract
water is to be taken as a reference to all types of licence, unless it is clear
that a different meaning is intended.”
(2) In section 72 of the WRA (interpretation of Chapter 2), in subsection (1), in the
appropriate places there is inserted—
““full licence” has the meaning given in section 24A above;”,
““temporary licence” and “transfer licence” have the meanings given in
section 24A above.”
2 Restrictions on impounding
(1) Section 25 of the WRA (restrictions on impounding) is amended as provided in
subsections (2) to (5).
(2) For subsection (1) there is substituted—
“(1) Subject to the following provisions of this Chapter and to any drought
order or drought permit under Chapter 3 of this Part, no person shall—
(a) begin, or cause or permit any other person to begin, to construct
or alter any impounding works at any point in any inland
waters which are not discrete waters; or
(b) cause or permit the flow of any inland waters which are not
discrete waters to be obstructed or impeded at any point by
means of impounding works,
unless (in either case) the conditions mentioned in subsection (1A)
below are satisfied.
(1A) The conditions are—
(a) a licence under this Chapter granted by the Agency to obstruct
or impede the flow of those inland waters at that point by
means of impounding works is in force;
(b) the impounding works will not (or, as the case may be, do not)
obstruct or impede the flow of the inland waters except to the
extent, and in the manner, authorised by the licence; and
(c) any other conditions or requirements imposed by the
provisions, as for the time being in force, of the licence (whether
as to the provision of compensation water or otherwise) are
(3) In subsection (2), the words “, in circumstances not constituting such a
contravention,” are omitted.
(4) In subsection (5), for “shall not apply to the construction or alteration of any
impounding works” there is substituted “shall not apply in respect of any
(5) After subsection (8) there is added—
“(9) In relation to impounding works, references to alteration include the
removal or partial removal of those works, and cognate expressions
shall be construed accordingly.”
(6) A licence which—
(a) has been granted in respect of particular impounding works, for the
purposes of section 25 of the WRA, before the coming into force of
subsection (2); and
(b) is in force,
is to be taken to satisfy the condition referred to in section 25(1A)(a) of that Act,
as inserted by subsection (2), in respect of those impounding works.
(7) In section 64 of the WRA (abstraction and impounding by the Agency), for
subsection (1)(b) there is substituted—
“(b) in relation to—
(i) the construction or alteration by the Agency of
impounding works; and
(ii) the obstruction or impeding by the Agency of the flow
of inland waters by means of impounding works,”.
(8) In section 67 of the WRA (ecclesiastical property), in the definition of “relevant
land” in subsection (8), in paragraph (b)(i), after “impounding works” there is
inserted “is, or”.
(9) In section 72 of the WRA (interpretation of Chapter 2), in subsection (1), in the
definition of “the restriction on impounding works”, for “25(1)” there is
substituted “25(1)(a) and (b)”.
(10) Subject to section 3 of this Act, the amendments of the WRA made by this
section apply (as regards any act or omission after this section comes into force)
with respect to impounding works whenever constructed.
3 Existing impounding works
(1) Except as provided in subsection (3), the restriction in section 25(1)(b) of the
WRA (as substituted by section 2 of this Act) does not apply in respect of any
existing unlicensed impounding works.
(2) With respect to any existing unlicensed impounding works to which, but for
subsection (1), that restriction would apply, the Environment Agency may
serve a notice on any relevant person requiring him to apply for a licence.
(3) If that person fails to apply for such a licence within—
(a) the period of twenty-eight days beginning with—
(i) the date of service of the notice, or
(ii) if an appeal is brought under subsection (4) and the appeal is
dismissed, the date when the decision of the appropriate
authority is notified to that person, or
(b) such extended period as may be agreed in writing between the Agency
and that person,
the restriction in section 25(1)(b) of the WRA applies in respect of the
impounding works from the expiry of that period.
(4) If the relevant person on whom a notice is served under subsection (2) is
aggrieved by the service of that notice, he may by notice appeal to the
(5) The appropriate authority may by regulations make provision with respect
(a) the grounds upon which notices of appeal may be served under
(b) the manner in which such notices shall be served,
(c) the period within which such notices shall be served,
(d) the procedure on any such appeal.
(6) Where an appeal is brought under subsection (4)—
(a) the appropriate authority may allow or dismiss the appeal or reverse or
vary any part of the decision of the Agency, whether the appeal relates
to that part of the decision or not, and
(b) the decision of the appropriate authority shall be final.
(7) Subsections (4) to (6) are subject to section 114 of the Environment Act 1995
(c. 25) (delegation or reference of appeals).
(8) On an application for a licence in respect of any existing unlicensed
impounding works, section 39(1) of the WRA applies only to the extent that the
obstruction or impeding of the flow of inland waters which would, if the
licence were granted, be authorised by that licence is to differ in any material
respect from that which was taking place at the time the application was made.
(9) If a licence granted in respect of existing unlicensed impounding works is
revoked or varied in the circumstances mentioned in section 61 of the WRA
(compensation where licence modified on direction of the Secretary of State),
subsection (3) of that section shall apply as if that licence had been granted
when construction of the impounding works began and had remained in force
(10) Subsection (9) does not apply to a licence granted in respect of existing
unlicensed impounding works if, before the effective date, there had occurred
any contravention of section 25(1) of the WRA in respect of those impounding
(11) Nothing in the preceding subsections affects the application of section 25(1)(a)
of the WRA (as substituted by section 2 of this Act) to the alteration, after the
effective date, of any existing unlicensed impounding works.
(12) In this section—
“the appropriate authority” means—
(a) in relation to Wales, the Assembly, and
(b) otherwise, the Secretary of State,
“the effective date” means the date when section 2 of this Act comes into
“existing unlicensed impounding works” means unlicensed impounding
works, the construction of which was begun before the effective date,
“licence” means a licence of the kind referred to in section 25 of the WRA,
“relevant person” means any person who appears to the Environment
Agency to have responsibility in respect of the impounding works in
“unlicensed impounding works” means impounding works (as defined in
section 25(8) of the WRA) in respect of which—
(a) no licence or authorisation of the kind referred to in section 25
of that Act was in force immediately before the effective date,
(b) no such licence has been granted since that date.
(13) In section 114 of the Environment Act 1995 (c. 25) (power of Secretary of State
to delegate or refer in connection with appeals), in subsection (2)(a), after
paragraph (viii) there is inserted—
“(ix) section 3 of the Water Act 2003,”.
4 Existing impounding works: works notices
(1) Without prejudice to the Environment Agency’s power under subsection (2) of
section 3, where it appears to the Agency to be necessary for—
(a) the protection of the environment, or
(b) the performance of its functions in connection with the management of
the Agency may serve a works notice on any relevant person with respect to
any existing unlicensed impounding works of the kind mentioned in
subsection (2) of that section.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a works notice is a notice requiring the
person on whom it is served to carry out such works or operations in relation
to the impounding works as—
(a) appear to the Environment Agency to be required for the purposes
mentioned in subsection (1)(a) or (b), and
(b) are specified in the notice.
(3) The following provisions of the WRA apply in relation to works notices under
this section as they apply in relation to notices referred to in those provisions—
(a) subsections (5) to (9) of section 25A (as inserted by section 30 of this
(b) sections 161B and 161C,
including any power to make regulations or give directions, but references in
those provisions to the Secretary of State shall be treated as references to the
(4) If a person on whom the Agency serves a notice under this section fails to
comply with any of its requirements, he shall be guilty of an offence.
(5) A person who commits an offence under subsection (4) shall be liable—
(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £20,000;
(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine.
(6) If a person on whom a works notice has been served under this section fails to
comply with any of its requirements, the Agency may do what that person was
required to do and may recover from him any costs or expenses reasonably
incurred by the Agency in doing it.
(7) If the Agency is of the opinion that proceedings for an offence under subsection
(4) would afford an ineffectual remedy against a person who has failed to
comply with the requirements of a works notice, the Agency may take
(7) proceedings in the High Court for the purpose of securing compliance with the
(8) In this section, “the appropriate authority”, “existing unlicensed impounding
works” and “relevant person” have the meanings given in section 3.
5 Rights of navigation, harbour and conservancy authorities
For section 26 of the WRA (rights of navigation, harbour and conservancy
authorities) there is substituted—
“26 Rights of navigation, harbour and conservancy authorities
(1) Subject to subsection (2) below, the restriction on abstraction shall not
apply to any transfer, without intervening use, of water from inland
waters described in the first column of the Table below to inland waters
described in the corresponding entry in the second column, if the
transfer is in the course of, or results from, any operations carried out
by a navigation authority, harbour authority or conservancy authority
in the carrying out of their functions as such an authority.
A water system of the
The same water system.
| || |
A water system of the
Inland waters not forming part
of that water system.
A supply reservoir of the
A water system of the
authority’s with which that
| || |
reservoir is connected.
(2) Subsection (1) above shall not apply to a transfer of water from a water
system to any inland waters outside that water system in order to—
(a) empty a dry dock; or
(b) introduce into those inland waters all or part of a quantity of
water to be abstracted from any connected inland waters in
pursuance of a licence to do so granted under this Chapter.
(3) The restriction on impounding works shall not apply to—
(a) the construction or alteration of impounding works; or
(b) the obstruction or impeding of inland waters by means of
in the course of the performance by a navigation authority, harbour
authority or conservancy authority of their functions as such an
authority, unless the construction, alteration, obstruction or impeding
affects any inland waters in relation to which the authority does not
(4) In this section, references to—
(a) an authority’s water system are to a water system in relation to
which the authority has functions;
(b) an authority’s supply reservoir are to a reservoir—
(i) belonging to a navigation authority;
(ii) used for the purposes of supplying that navigation
authority’s water system; and
(iii) which does not discharge to any inland waters other
than that water system.
(5) For the purposes of this section, “water system” means the canals, the
harbours, or the canals and harbours constituting the system in
(a) together with the locks, docks, balancing reservoirs, weirs and
other works associated with the system (other than any supply
reservoir as described in subsection (4)(b) above); but
(b) excluding any part of the system which consists of a navigable
river or part of one.”
6 Rights to abstract small quantities
(1) For section 27 of the WRA (rights to abstract small quantities) there is
“27 Rights to abstract small quantities
(1) The restriction on abstraction shall not apply to any abstraction of a
quantity of water not exceeding twenty cubic metres in any period of
twenty-four hours, if the abstraction does not form part of a continuous
operation, or of a series of operations, by which a quantity of water
which, in aggregate, is more than twenty cubic metres is abstracted
during the period.
(2) For the purposes of this Chapter, a person who is in a position to carry
out an abstraction of water which—
(a) falls within subsection (1) above; and
(b) also falls within subsection (3) or (4) below,
shall be taken to have the right to do so.
(3) An abstraction falls within this subsection if it is an abstraction from
inland waters carried out by or on behalf of an occupier of land
contiguous to those waters at the place where the abstraction is effected
(“contiguous land”), and—
(a) the water is abstracted for use on a holding consisting of the
contiguous land with or without other land held with that land;
(b) it is abstracted for use on that holding for either or both of the
(i) the domestic purposes of the occupier’s household;
(ii) agricultural purposes other than spray irrigation.
(4) An abstraction falls within this subsection if it is an abstraction from
underground strata and the water is abstracted by or on behalf of an
individual as a supply of water for the domestic purposes of his