New long-term water strategy gets NFU support

Grower leaders have given their support to a 40-year water-resources strategy, throwing down major challenges to securing water supplies.

The NFU welcomed the strategy, which forecast that climate change, more housing and higher population would increase reliance on water for agriculture.

The Environment Agency's report Water for People and the Environment recommended ways of ensuring all parts of society had continued access to water.

The strategy supported the development of small-scale reservoirs for agriculture and called for their continued funding.

It pledged to promote the setting up of agriculture groups to advise on water efficiency and to support changes to management practices to protect water resources.

The agency also called for continued investment in new science-based research, including developing new technologies for water use.

NFU director of policy Martin Haworth said the strategy recognised that reliance on water for production could only increase if hotter, drier summers became more frequent.

"It highlights the importance of working with the needs of farm businesses. It identifies the NFU as central to promoting responsible use."

Haworth said: "We must demonstrate responsible use of the small proportion of the nation's water supply used by farmers.

"However, we expect the agency to use its licensing powers to allow this to take place, through such things as support for winter water storage."

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