Licence holders who have abstracted water for irrigating crops and fields during 2015, are being reminded that data returns should be submitted to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) before 31 December 2015.
Data returns are a mandatory requirement for licence holders, to ensure over abstraction doesn’t threaten the ecology of Scotland’s rivers and reservoirs. The data is also a key indicator of compliance, and the recent Compliance Assessment Scheme for 2014 highlighted that only 80% of irrigation abstractors returned their data forms, leading to 131 licence holders being classified as non-compliant.
Stuart McGowan, SEPA Unit Manager, said:
“We can’t stress enough how important these data returns are for operators. They form a vital part of the licence requirements and data is expected from each operator, even if it’s a nil return.
“This is a straightforward process which can take minutes to complete as daily abstraction figures should have been recorded during the irrigation season. Those who do not return data by the 31 December could be liable to enforcement action. In addition, complying with the conditions of an abstraction licence is part of cross compliance and not submitting a data return could result in a penalty being applied to support scheme payments administered by the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Division (SGRPID). SEPA and SGRPID have no wish to take action and hence we are reminding people now.”
SEPA is working with the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS), Scottish Land and Estates, Scottish Tenant Farmers Association and SGRPID in order to ensure all license holders are aware of the deadline. As part of the awareness drive SEPA has written to all irrigation license holders to remind them of their obligation to submit data.
When planning for the 2016 season, licence holders who do not intend to abstract water for irrigation can apply for a cessation of charges by notifying their local SEPA’ office before the end of February, using the notification form on the webpage.
• Online data return forms can be found here: www.sepa.org.uk/regulations/water/abstractions/#five
• As a condition of receiving support scheme payments, including the Basic Payment Scheme, land managers have to comply with a set of requirements known as cross compliance. Abstracting water for irrigation, including submitting a data return, first became part of cross compliance on 1 January 2010. More information on cross compliance can be found on the Rural Payments and Inspections website: https://www.ruralpayments.org/publicsite/futures/topics/inspections/all-inspections/cross-compliance/
• For more information on the requirements for water abstraction, details of the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 can be found: www.sepa.org.uk/media/34800/introduction-to-the-controlled-activities-regulations.pdf
• Compliance Assessment Scheme result 2014 - The Compliance Assessment Scheme (CAS) outlines how well permitted operators in Scotland have met the conditions of their licences on an annual basis and helps SEPA to identify problem areas which require greater focus for improvement. Introduced in 2009, the scheme covers operators with Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Part A and Part B permits, Waste Management Licences (WML), Controlled Activity Regulations (CAR) discharges and sites licensed under the Radioactive Substances Act (RSA).
For more information on the 2014 results, check out our website apps.sepa.org.uk/compliance/