Speakers at the NFU Water Conference, held at Park Farm, Thorney, highlighted the seriousness of the situation and the importance of working together to build resilience and secure water for food.
They included Daniel Jones, managing director of Water Resources East, consultant Lindsay Hargreaves, farmer Will Jolly and Andy Turner and Tom Schnetler from the Environment Agency.
The event also included a series of afternoon discussion sessions, which allowed attendees to examine the issues in greater detail and to come up with potential solutions.
These were chaired by industry experts including Jerry Knox of Cranfield and BAWAG Technical Director Steve Moncaster. Anglian Water attended to look at the potential benefits that could arise for the sector from its proposed reservoirs.
NFU National Water Resources Specialist Kelly Hewson-Fisher organised the event with regional colleagues. She said: “The aim of the conference was to bring members up to date on the challenges that lay ahead on water availability.
“We’re aware the impacts that climate change could bring and we hear the phrases of warmer and drier summers and wetter winters but what does that mean in terms of water availability and what are the impacts on individual businesses and at catchment, regional and national scale?”
The event highlighted the size of the challenge, with Daniel Johns stating that by 2050 the region will need a further 444ML/day for non-public water supply and agriculture’s requirement is 64% of that.
Water Resources East aims to create a multi sector water resources regional plan which looks at securing water across the sectors. The draft plan is currently asking for consultation responses to be returned by 20 February. For further information and guidance on the consultation response please visit our information on NFU Online.
The challenges also lie with regulation. Kelly has pulled information together on the current Environment Agency activity for members. She said it was important licence holders reviewed their licences to ensure they continued to meet the business requirements and looked at opportunities to build resilience.
The Farming Transformation Fund is currently closed but it is hoped there will be a second round of funding.
Members can view the conference papers here: