West Suffolk: Abstractors seek to ease long-term water pressure

Paul Hammett, water expert from the Fational Farmers' Union. Paul Hammett, water expert from the Fational Farmers' Union.

Sunday, April 20, 2014
6:02 AM

Members of Lark Abstractors Group are taking a longer-term view on water resources after learning that irrigation restrictions are highly unlikely this growing season.

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Growers attending the west Suffolk group’s annual meeting in Newmarket were unsurprised but pleased to hear that rainfall over the past six months has kept the local aquifer full.

Andrew Chapman, water resources team leader at the Environment Agency’s Brampton office, confirmed that groundwater levels are ‘average or above average’ throughout the area. With soil moisture deficits close to zero, no restrictions on irrigation are forecast for this year.

Lark Abstractor Group chairman Lindsay Hargreaves welcomed the announcement but stressed it was vital to look further ahead and prepare for potential future problems.

Lindsay, newly appointed managing director of Frederick Hiam Limited, said: “It’s not so long ago that the Lark Abstractor Group co-ordinated discussions on behalf of farmers in agreeing with the Environment Agency to a voluntary reduction in our access to water for the year.

“That agreement was necessary because, due to prolonged lack of rainfall, there just was not enough water in the aquifer to get us through the season. We reasoned that if we all equally cut back on our entitlement, we could eke out our supply and get through to harvest.

“It’s great that there is no need to think about that this year but as a group we need to prepare for the next drought and think of ways to work together to get us through future periods of water scarcity.”

Group members used the meeting to consider government proposals to radically change the way that abstracted water is managed and licensed.

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