‘Challenging times ahead’ for the use and management of water in the East of England, says CLA

09 July 2019


The East of England faces some ‘challenging times ahead’ regarding the use and management of water in the region, CLA East Regional Director Ben Underwood has warned.

The contrasting challenges of severe flooding in some parts of the region in recent weeks and concerns in others areas that water abstraction licences, which allow farmers and landowners to take water from a natural source, are being revoked without compensation, is creating a difficult climate for profitable food production and land management.

The CLA (Country Land and Business Association) represents farmers, landowners and rural businesses across England and Wales with the office in the eastern region covering Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk.

CLA East Regional Director Ben Underwood said:

“The devastating flooding in Lincolnshire last month brought to the fore some of the significant challenges this region faces in terms of water management. While investigations into the flooding in Wainfleet continue, many farmers and landowners in the East of England feel vulnerable to the risk of flooding and the devastation it could cause their land and rural businesses.

“By way of contrast, we know of landowners in Norfolk that are having their licences to abstract water revoked by the Environment Agency due to concerns over water levels and the environment. While we recognise there is the need for sustainable abstraction, the fact that these licences are being taken away without any compensation is of great concern.

“There is little doubt that the impact of climate change, population growth and extreme weather events will to lead to some extremely challenging times ahead when it comes to water supply and management in the East of England. Farmers and landowners can play a crucial role in providing solutions to these challenges and must be involved in conversation.”

Senior officials from the CLA met recently with the Environment Agency to raise their concerns over flooding in the region and the revoking of water abstraction licences.

The CLA also recently held a Climate Change Summit in London where academic and industry experts discussed the risks and opportunities of climate change for farmers and landowners and the topic of water was a key point on the agenda. For more information on the summit click here.

Last month Water Resources East (WRE), of which the CLA is a key partner, was officially established as a not for profit, independent company. The focus of WRE –  is to recognise the impact that climate change and population growth will continue to have on Eastern England’s finite water supply, combined with the need to enhance the environment in this region.