WRE's long-term plan for water – draft Regional Plan consultation

First published: 16 November 2022

An image of a water sprinkler in a field of crops

WRE (Water Resources East) is consulting on its plans to address long-term water supply pressures. This is one of five regional plans across England as part of the government’s Water Resources Planning Framework.

15 November 2022

Water Resources East publishes draft report on regional water resources plan

Following the Emerging Regional Plan in February 2022, (WRE’s) Water Resources East’s draft Regional Water Resources Plan for Eastern England was published on 14 November 2022, for consultation. 

Useful links:

Responding to the consultation

We will be responding to the consultation and collating member comments up until 23 January 2023.

Please send any comments to NFU national water specialist Kelly Hewson-Fisher: Email [email protected]

Members can also respond to the consultation individually by completing the form at this link: Respond to WRE's draft Regional Water Resources Plan for Eastern England

You can also email WRE at [email protected] , or write using: Water Resources East, The Enterprise Centre Research Park, University of East Anglia, University Drive, Norwich NR4 7TJ.

The deadline for feedback is 20 February 2023.

WRE will be formally launching the draft Regional Plan during a webinar on Wednesday 23 November, 13:00 – 14:30. If you have not already received an invitation, please email [email protected].

25 February 2022

NFU responds to WRE Emerging Regional Plan

We have responded to the initial draft of Water Resources East’s (WRE’s) long-term plan.

NFU members can log in to read our response in full here: NFU response to WRE Emerging Regional Plan February 2022

WRE Emerging Regional Plan proposals

WRE's Emerging Regional Plan for Eastern England seeks to address long-term water supply pressures in the region, which is characterised by its diversity of water use, including very significant non-public water supply users, particularly for agriculture, food production and energy.

The region is under pressure from population growth, climate change and the need to enhance the environment in some of the nation’s most iconic landscapes. 

It is said that more than 60% of England’s abstraction licences for irrigation are located in the East and farmers manage 75% of the land. Farming output supplies a food processing industry that is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector.

WRE states: 'Water is a regional challenge and one which will only be met through strong and enduring regional collaboration.'

You can read the WRE draft plan summary or the full WRE Emerging Water Resources Regional Plan for Eastern England document for more information.

Our response to WRE draft plan

We support the principles in the WRE plan, which are consistent with those embedded in our Integrated Water Management Strategy. We welcome the potential opportunities that could be delivered by a multi-sector approach to water planning.

Our Integrated Water Management Strategy illustrates that pressures faced by farmers and growers in managing ‘too much’ and ‘not enough’ water are likely to become so great that they will not always be solved at the farm level.

Cooperation and collaboration

Cooperation and collaboration within the farming community, and with other sectors such as water companies, will be vital in our response to managing extremes.

We think that the development of the WRE plan is an important step forward which should create opportunities to promote multi-sector schemes where farmers, water companies, energy companies and others can share the benefits of new and improved facilities.

In our response on the draft plan, we have asked that the WRE Emerging Regional Plan looks to provide:

  • detailed understanding of the deficits that the agricultural sector faces across the East
  • a timeline for working with the agricultural sector to understand the options and how they support the short, medium and long term risks of water shortages
  • assurance that regulation will work alongside the proposed options to secure water resources for a sustainable future for agriculture
  • work at a sub-regional/catchment level to fully understand the implications of water resources within those catchments
  • fair access, for agri-food abstractors, to the available water resources
  • fully explored financial implications (capital and operational costs) of the options available to the agricultural sector and to explore funding opportunities.

Reservoirs

The WRE plan includes proposals for the construction of two reservoirs in the Fens, one in Lincolnshire and one in Cambridgeshire although siting for these has not been finalised.

We believe that all new public water supply infrastructure must be designed and built to deliver multi-sector benefit, including for agriculture. Agricultural water needs must be recognised as an explicit part of resource use plans.

We also believe that both the design and implementation during construction must be carried out in a way that minimises impact on land ownership and farming operations.

Read more about the NFU's position on reservoirs: NFU position on public reservoirs

20 January 2021

WRE consults on Emerging Regional Plan

WRE's draft plan is one of five regional plans across England to be published in January 2022 as part of Government’s Water Resources Planning Framework. The NFU supports the principles contained within the framework, which is consistent with those embedded in the our Integrated Water Management Strategy.

The WRE plan seeks to address long-term water supply pressures in the region and includes a clear ambition to protect and improve the environment.

It includes proposals for the construction of two reservoirs in the Fens, one in Lincolnshire and one in Cambridgeshire although siting for these has not been finalised.

NFU position

The NFU believes that all new public water supply infrastructure must be designed and built to deliver multi-sector benefit, including agriculture, such that agricultural water needs are recognised as an explicit part of resource use plans. The NFU also believes that both the design and implementation during construction must be carried out in a way that minimises impact on land ownership and farming operations.

However overall, the NFU welcomes the potential opportunities that could be delivered by a multi-sector approach to water planning.

Our Integrated Water Management Strategy illustrates that pressures faced by farmers and growers in managing ‘too much’ and ‘not enough’ water are likely to become so great that they will not always be solved at the farm level. Cooperation and collaboration within the farming community, and with other sectors such as water companies, will be vital in our response to managing extremes.

We think that the development of the WRE plan is an important step forward which should create opportunities to promote multi-sector schemes where farmers, water companies, energy companies and others can share the benefits of new and improved facilities.

How to have your say

Members interested in finding out more can read the WRE draft plan summary or the full WRE emerging plan document

Members wishing to discuss issues raised in the draft report can contact [email protected] or [email protected] 

File downloads

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query our NFU CallFirst will contact you and, if appropriate, your question will be passed on to one of our policy teams.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Summary

  • WRE has published its draft Regional Water Resources Plan for Eastern England.
  • The NFU will be submitting a response on behalf of members.
  • We have previously responded to WRE's Emerging Water Resources Regional Plan.
  • We support the principles in the WRE plan, which are consistent with those embedded in our Integrated Water Management Strategy.
  • We welcome the potential opportunities that could be delivered by a multi-sector approach to water planning.