The NFU has welcomed Defra proposals to ensure that strategic water resources planning becomes truly multi-sector, thereby recognising the needs of agriculture together with the energy and environmental sectors.
The Defra proposals are designed to give the Secretary of State more powers to direct water companies to:
- Produce water management plans at a regional or other geographical scale
- Ensure that multi-sector (including agricultural) needs are considered and
- Deliver environmental objectives within their management plans
The government has already shifted its approach to strategic water planning with the creation, in recent months, of regional, multi-sector groups charged with the responsibility of creating regional water plans. The NFU supports the general principle of regional and multi-sector planning because it gives agriculture a seat at the table for the first time.
The NFU is keen for farmers and other businesses to improve their resilience by working with water companies. Ultimately, there must be opportunities to promote multi-sector schemes where farmers, water companies, energy companies and others can share the benefits of new and improved facilities.
We believe that the government must direct water companies to take account of farmers’ needs in their plans so that agriculture has a fair share of the water to grow food.
NFU members can download a briefing on new regulatory proposals for longer term water management planning
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