As we move into the peak irrigation season with unpredictable rainfall ahead, the Environment Agency has released updated dry weather advice for abstractors.
The new guidance note here moves away from the Agency’s ‘flexible abstraction’ position statement issued at the height of the 2018 drought and revised during 2019, and the advice makes it clear that the Agency is less interested in requests for ‘one-off’ emergency approvals and expects that farmers will instead come forward with proposals for licence changes to make them more resilient in the longer term and not just this summer.
Nevertheless, the Environment Agency accepts that some abstractors may not be able to keep to the conditions of their abstraction licence this season because of prolonged dry weather.
The guidance note includes addresses for all Agency local area offices which are available to abstractors for discussing options available for improving access to water. Those options may include the authorisation of temporary abstraction outside licence conditions.
Abstractors may be asked to apply to vary their licence on a more permanent basis as part of any agreed option.
As farmers and growers meet the challenges of yet another dry year, NFU water specialist Paul Hammett urged abstractors to regularly review their licences to ensure they meet current needs to deliver, as much as possible, business resilience to prolonged dry weather and water scarcity.
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