20 March 2019

Farmers’ voices must be heard as Government consults on water management.

The future management of water within our rural and agricultural communities is being consulted upon as part of a major Government exercise into the vital commodity and its use nationwide.

Contained in an over-arching document entitled ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’, the Government wants to identify the challenges to restore our waters to ‘as close to natural state as possible’, and to improve quality and flood resilience. The document highlights how the ‘combination of climate change and population growth will make these challenges even more difficult’.

In launching the consultation, the Government recognises the ‘significant improvement’ in the water environment in recent years but stresses how there is more to do to ‘achieve the commitments of clean and plentiful water and reduce the risks of harm from environmental hazards’.

It hopes this most recent exercise will identify ways in which long-term planning can be improved for water resources and drainage, while current regulation can be modernised.

This consultation exercise comes two years after Defra unveiled its plans to restrict water abstraction for agriculture to protect the environment – confirming the government’s approach to abstraction management on an environmental and catchment basis until 2022.

While not just restricted to rural usage and concerns, this latest consultation includes pertinent questions covering abstraction powers and changes to the Land Drainage Act 1991 – and it is recommended that land-owners and farmers look at the whole document and contribute to it where possible.

It is widely known that the proposed new Agricultural Bill has been purposely designed to end current subsidy payments – to be replaced by a new system of support, largely based on rewarding farmers who implement environmental measures. Therefore, it could be more important than ever that farmers make every effort to engage in such consultations – after all, if they do not give their views, they may lose their voice?

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