CLA calls on Government to safeguard water for agriculture

08 October 2013

The CLA has called for assurance that water for agriculture and land management will be safeguarded due to changes proposed for the water abstraction licensing system, as announced in the Government's Water White Paper today (8 December).

The White Paper proposes a shake-up to the abstraction licensing system to help the UK meet its future water needs. However, the CLA said it is disappointed the Government is not offering compensatory measures to those farmers and land managers affected.

 CLA President Harry Cotterell 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. 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. 

"Less than two percent of water is abstracted for agriculture but as an industry we must provide more food in the future. A two-tier market could help to meet food security needs and ensure the industry gets a fair allocation of the available water.

Mr Cotterell added: "With many changes unlikely to be in place until around 2030, this long transition period must include support for farmers and land managers to adapt their businesses and the Government must relax planning regulations to allow the building of more on-farm reservoirs."

The CLA published its own policy paper on water, The Tide is High, in 2010 which also called on the Government to extend current compensation deals beyond 2012 to increase the security of water rights and increase licence periods to encourage investment.

Read The Tide is High: CLA Vision for Water