CLA South East Acting Regional Director Tim Brock said: "All rural businesses including farmers and land managers would like to see a more competitive water industry.
"More choice and flexibility in the water sector would result in businesses getting a better service as well as reducing costs. These proposals could lead to new business opportunities for agriculture and land managers to work closely with the water industry. For example, the development of innovative partnerships between land managers and sewage treatment operators could provide sewage treatment for rural areas using environmentally friendly options such as reedbeds."
Mr Brock added: "We are reassured by the Government's commitment to stick to a longer lead-in time to reform water abstraction rules. It is vital we have a well-constructed framework that ensures a fair allocation of water for farmers and land managers so they can meet the future challenges of food production and land management."
Mr Brock said the CLA would be looking closely at proposals in the draft Bill to bring water abstraction and impounding licensing, flood defence consents and fish pass approvals under the Environmental Permitting Regulations.
He explained: "Environmental permits have not yet reduced the red tape around environmental regulation for most farmers and land managers. In fact, they have done the opposite and are now costing smaller businesses even more than before."
The CLA is also working closely with the Farming and Rural Issues Group for the South East (FRIGSE) which brings together land-based organisations and provides a forum for liaison with Government agencies. In light of the Water Bill that aims to improve competitiveness and efficiency of the water industry FRIGSE is holding a water summit in November to look at the issues of long term water availability and the associated costs for famers and growers in order to give a comprehensive and local representation that can be put to Government.
Andrew Colquhoun Chairman of FRIGSE said: "Farmers and growers in the South East are increasingly worried about the long-term availability of water at an economic price in a region which is facing substantial increases in urban demand for water and more frequent dry winters. FRIGSE hopes that through the Water Bill and the subsequent review of the abstraction system, the long-term of needs of farmer and growers will be given proper priority."
1. Read the draft Water Bill
2. Formed in 1997, the Farming and Rural Issues Group (FRIGSE) brings together all the main land-based organisations operating in the South East of England. Membership consists of 14 organisations involved in farming, forestry, horticulture, agricultural engineering, contracting and consultancy. Representatives from the land-based colleges, training organisations and the CBI are also active members. FRIGSE is recognised by Defra as part of the Rural and Farming Network which it created across England in 2012. www.frigse.org.uk