Water concerns in farming back in the news



Tighter water abstraction rules once again threaten to have an affect on UK food production growers have been warned, according to Farmers Weekly. Time-limited water abstraction licenses, which are due to expire this year, are being assessed by the Environment Agency to ensure that they comply with the EU Water Framework Directive. License conditions may change if they are deemed to be a risk to environmental deterioration with the Cam and Ely Ouse catchment areas likely to be affected initially.

According to a spokesman for the UK Irrigation Agency (UKIA), the changes could have a profound impact on individual irrigated farming businesses and raises questions surrounding how changes in future licensed allocation might impact growers.

The directive requires water bodies and aquatic ecosystems to be of good ecological status from this year. However, in East Anglia for instance, some 24 per cent of water bodies are thought to be non-compliant, with phosphate and abstraction among two of the concerns, and will will result in tighter license conditions.

The news coincides with the water capital grant scheme opening for applications. Farmers can apply for their share of a £900m grant scheme to develop environmentally friendly techniques and adopt initiatives such as restoring hedges, planting woodland, enhancing wildlife habitats and improving water quality. There are some 40 eligible items for grant funding including: installing bio-beds, preventing livestock access to watercourses, providing drinking troughs for livestock, relocating sheep dips and pens and roofing sprayer wash-down areas. Items also include manure storage areas, livestock gathering areas, slurry stores and silage stores.

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