Greater Lincolnshire LEP are asking for help in structuring the Greater Lincolnshire Water Plan
Please see below the AHDB access to water survey which we’d like to encourage you to complete. This survey feeds directly into our emerging Greater Lincolnshire Water Plan and is therefore an important reference document in the evidence base.
Please see further details and background below.
Why vegetable and potato growers should participate in the AHDB access to water survey
In the south east and some other areas the population is growing, and to maintain environmental standards of water bodies, several changes in licensing will take place. All permanent licences will be converted to time limited permits and ‘head room’ is expected to be removed. The situation could be particularly difficult in future for those businesses which want to expand and use more water.
At the recent United Kingdom Irrigation Association (UKIA) conference a speaker from Spain explained that in his eastern catchment, 80% of total water is used for agriculture/horticulture. Laws regarding governance of water go back 1,000 years. Reservoir capacity can cope with a seven year drought. In Britain, there is no established legal right of agriculture for water, and indeed agriculture is not regarded as an ‘essential user’ by Defra. Our reservoir capacity is tiny in comparison with other countries. In relation to the Water Framework Directive monitoring, the quality of our waterways is generally much poorer than in France, Spain, Italy and Denmark. There are several reasons, including our industrial heritage and lack of storage capacity.
AHDB isn’t a lobbying organisation; however we can state the facts. AHDB has a direct line to the industry and to those who want to lobby on behalf of growers and as such we can help generate the impartial data to inform that debate. Defra and the Environment Agency have also said that they lack data on water use by agriculture/horticulture and that they can’t or won’t fund the obtaining of that data. Growers in various sectors around the country have little by way of unifying organisations, but there is AHDB, which is why a strategic decision has been taken to undertake this work. There have been many reports making reference to water for agriculture, and figures from a few relatively small areas, but there is a major gap at the national level and this is what the AHDB water use survey aims to address.
Because horticulture is so diverse, small samples can’t be extrapolated to the whole. The only way to clarify the importance of irrigation water is by a really large number of farmers and growers answering the questions, so that all types of horticulture and water availability and parts of the country are represented. One need for a national picture is that some decisions, such as on grants for reservoir construction, are made on a national level.
If a grower has looked up the figures required beforehand (listed in the blurb at the top of the survey), completing the survey takes 20-30 minutes. So far, there has been stronger input from potato growers than from vegetable and protected crop growers.