East Anglia: CLA warns of White Paper threat to water supplies

THE Country Land & Business Association is seeking assurances from the Government that water for agriculture and land management will be safeguarded under a propose shake-up of the abstraction licensing system.

Growers in the East of England stand to be particularly effected by the changes, contained in a White Paper entitled Water for Life, due to its low rainfall and the reliance of some crops on irrigation.

Besides the potential threat to water supplies, the CLA is also concerned that proposed reform of the water market could see food producers priced out of the market by other industries.

The White Paper aims to address Environment Agency concerns that some conservation sites are being damaged by the current level of water abstraction.

It also proposes to reform the water industry so that large businesses which have multiple bases, such as supermarkets, would be able to negotiate a single bill from one firm, rather than making individual payments.

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Tim Isaac, deputy director at CLA East, said: “It is extremely important any revision to the system also addresses the issue of blight which some farmers will undoubtedly suffer when changes are made to how and where their water can be used.

“Population growth and climate change are significant pressures on water resource so the Government must also put measures in place to secure the water supply for food production.

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“Making it easier to trade water rights could benefit some land managers, but safeguards need to be established during the deregulation of the water market so that agriculture is not priced out by other industries.”

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