To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many licences have been granted by the Environment Agency to extract water from rivers in 2003; what average length of time it has taken to grant a licence to extract water from a river; what the average length of time a licence for which is issued; and how many such licences have been granted covering the River Aire in the Elmet constituency in 2003. 
The information is as follows:
Number of Licences to abstract water from rivers granted so far in 2003
Between 1 January and 22 May 2003 the Environment Agency granted 86 licences for abstraction from surface waters, including canals, minor watercourses and rivers.
Length of time to grant a licence to abstract water
During the period April 2002-March 2003 the Environment Agency granted 984 abstraction licences for surface and groundwater, of which 97 per cent. were granted within the statutory three months, or such longer period as had been agreed with the applicant. The agency does not collect information on the average length of time it takes to determine applications.
Length of time licences issued for
With the introduction of Catchment Abstraction Management Strategies (CAMS), new licences are initially granted to a "Common End Date" according to the CAMS area in which they lie. There is a presumption of renewal. Following the initial term of the licence the Environment Agency will normally renew the licence for a period of 12 years, again with a presumption of renewal.
Abstraction Licences on the River Aire granted in 2003
No licences have been granted for abstraction from the River Aire in the Elmet constituency during 2003.