Rural watchdog calls for fair allocation of water for farmers in drought
Rural watchdog, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), has called on the Government to ensure agriculture is given priority for scarce water resources to prevent a food shortage.
Taking part in Defra's drought summit to discuss areas hit by continued low winter rainfall, the CLA has demanded a fairer allocation of water for farmers across all drought-affected areas in England.
CLA regional director Nicola Currie said: "Agriculture is under incredible pressure as a result of the lack of rain through the winter. Other sectors have statutory powers and priority over agriculture, but to ensure food and environmental security it is vital we are given our fair share of water.
"The Government needs to think about extending permitted development rights to build on-farm reservoirs. This could make a real difference during any drought, particularly using flexible abstraction licenses to allow efficient recharge of reservoirs.
"Our members, especially in the Eastern and East Midlands regions are seriously concerned about the potential for drought this summer. We are pleased the Secretary of State is trying to address the issue at this early stage but it is absolutely essential that farmers get a fairer allocation of water now."
Mrs Currie added: "The CLA has been working with Defra and the Environment Agency to reduce the impact of current water resource issues on farmers and land managers who must be encouraged to capture and use water more efficiently. They also need to be supported and rewarded for delivering and managing sustainable water supplies.
"The monthly drought reports from the Environment Agency have been very helpful and we are pleased it is going to work more closely with water companies to develop water transfer schemes."
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Nicola has a Post Graduate Diploma in Advanced Farm Management from the Royal Agricultural College (RAC) and seven years experience as a Tenant Farmer, building up a pedigree dairy herd from scratch. She has also spent time in professional practice in Estate and Farm Management. This background has provided Nicola with a useful grounding to work for the interests of the CLA East regionís farming and rural businesses.
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