The Environment Agency is now using light aircraft previously used to locate flood and coastal risks to seek out East Midlands farmers abstracting water without a licence.
East Midlands farmers are the first area to be monitored in this new trial from the Environment agency but it claims other regions will likely follow.
The EA are collecting digital imagery to monitor and locate East Midlands farmers illegally abstracting water during Britain’s drought.
Flexibility in abstraction licensing
The EA says it has to balance water requirement across all sectors of industry, farmers and domestic needs. It is keen to support farmers and offer some flexibility with abstraction at this critical time where drought has caused such an issue for British farming. There is still a need to regulate abstraction licencing in farming.
Anglian Water Project
Anglian Water has stepped up to help some of East Midlands farmers with a new initiative. They are taking less domestic water from the River Nene to allow for more water to be used for crop irrigation by farmers.
This will support farmers between Peterborough and Cambridge. The scheme will run for two weeks and will see 20m litres a day go to farmers in the area, which is equivalent usage for 150,000 domestic users.
The Environment agency has called for more water companies to offer support to farmers.
The UK has only had half the expected rainfall at this time of year, just 28mm of rain in July across the East of England. This has had a huge impact on farming with poor yields, crop fires and livestock watering issues.
Water is an essential factor in agriculture as is agriculture to our economy.
Paul Hammett the NFU water resources specialist claimed he is pleased the Environment Agency is offering farmers flexibility on short-term abstraction licences, but surprised they are going to such extremes to investigate unlicensed abstraction.
He said “The NFU continues to communicate to its members the need to get prior approval before operating outside their licence conditions and follow all necessary regulation involved.”
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