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Urgent Action Needed - 2016 Irrigation Data Returns

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has sent out letters to all irrigation licence holders this week reminding them that abstraction data for each location on their licence, including nil returns, must be in by 31 December. 

For 2016 you can visit: to submit your returns electronically.  If you prefer to use hard copy then this is still acceptable, although in time SEPA will move to electronic only returns.


You can apply for an exemption from subsistence charges for next year if you know that you will not be growing water dependent crops. You can find an application form for an exemption, which must be submitted to SEPA by the last day of February, at the website address above or by contacting your local SEPA office.


Information on all abstractions of water is needed by SEPA to prevent over-abstraction, which could lead to water supply problems. SEPA also uses this information to identify ways of improving downgraded water bodies. Failure to comply with your licence conditions may result in enforcement action from SEPA.  The use of Fixed Monetary Penalties is now available to SEPA and we could potentially use these for future non-returns.

From 1 January 2010, abstracting water for irrigation became part of Cross Compliance under the standards of Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAECs).

If you fail to submit your data return by the deadline of 31 December we are obliged to notify The Scottish Government Rural  Payments and Inspections Division (RPID) of the breach, which can result in a penalty being applied to your Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) support scheme payments e.g. Basic Payment Scheme.

Further details on the requirements of Cross Compliance can be found on the Rural Payments and Services website at

Surrender of a licence

If you no longer intend to grow water dependent crops and no longer need to abstract water, you can contact your local SEPA office to surrender your licence. There is no charge for this.

If you have any questions regarding any aspect of compliance with your licence conditions you should contact your local SEPA office.


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