EXPANDING ARABLE farmers who need extra irrigation could benefit from a new market for water abstraction licences, says broker DCFM.

And farmers who hold abstraction licences for summer water, but no longer grow thirsty crops such as potatoes, could release the capital value by permanent or temporary transfer, said managing director Duncan Clark.

“Under the 2003 Water Act, dormant or sleeper” licences can be withdrawn without compensation if unused for four years.

“At present, only 46% of water abstraction licences are used,” said Mr Clark.

Licences could be transferred in full or in part, and between geographical management units set by the Environment Agency, provided the abstraction points were connected by a watercourse, he added.