Commercial and domestic boreholes, water wells and geothermal heat systems

Water abstraction licence

As of April 2005, abstractions of less than 20m3/day do not require licensing by the Environment Agency. If the abstraction is greater than 20m3/day a water abstraction licence is required and this is something that WB+AD Morgan can manage for you as it can be a protracted affair, and its complexity is often daunting.

Please note, the Environment Agency does have the authority to set a lower limit in certain areas of the country, and WB+AD Morgan is obliged to inform the British Geological Survey of the construction of any boreholes greater than 15m in depth.

If you require, WB+AD Morgan will quote for each stage of the process separately – but to ease your path through to licensing, a bespoke package can be tailor-made to your unique requirements. This ensures that the length of the process is minimised and that your water savings start as soon as possible.

Obtaining a water abstraction licence

Stage 1: Section 32 Application to the Environment Agency (EA)

Submit Section 32 to the EA requesting permission to drill and test pump a borehole. A map of 1:10000 or greater must be marked with the exact position of the borehole and details given of the underlying geological sequence, depth, diameter, method of construction, disposal of waste, projected flow rates etc. WB+AD Morgan can undertake this for you on receipt of the map.

Stage 2: Water features survey (WFS)

Undertake water features survey to the satisfaction of the EA detailing all existing ground water and surface water features within a radius defined by them. This must encompass water wells, springs, boreholes, ponds, rivers, wetland features and any other area of interest that could possibly have a bearing on this application..

Stage 3: Drilling of borehole and pump installation

These works cannot be undertaken until we are in receipt of the requisite consents from the EA.

Stage 4: Pump testing and associated monitoring

Undertake pump test of borehole and monitor all sources identified by the water features survey. Duration of pump test will be determined by the EA. This stage of the process is undertaken jointly between yourselves and WB+AD Morgan. The recording of data upon start-up is intensive and WB+AD Morgan find that input during this early stage is invaluable.

Stage 5: Analysis of test pumping data

Undertake analysis of all test pumping data from pumping well and monitoring points. Some regions of the EA will undertake this service In-house and make no charge: However, be aware that certain areas will not. WB+AD Morgan can provide this service in a format that is acceptable to the EA.

Stage 6: Application fee

£110.00+VAT payable to the EA.

[Cost updated November 2011]

Stage 7: Advertising

Advertise abstraction in local press and the London Gazette. Again this needs to be precise in its presentation—any variation or deviation will not be acceptable to the EA.


Upon submission of the Section 32 the EA should respond with the radius for the WFS within 15 days. Allow 7 days for the WFS to be undertaken and the report submitted to the EA. The EA should process this within a further 15 days. No engineering work must start prior to receipt of the drilling consent.

The EA request 7 days notice prior to commencement of drilling. The EA request 14 days notice prior to commencement of test pumping.  The EA then have 3 months in which to decide a licence.