British Growers Association response to DEFRA and Water for Food

by Tim Mudge

The abstraction licencing reform consultation finished on the 28th March 2014.  British Growers Association contributed to, and supported, the Water for Food document.  In addition to this the following letter was sent to DEFRA.

Re: 2014 consultation on abstraction reform

We are writing in response to the draft proposals for reforming the water abstraction management system for England & Wales. During the past few months we have actively encouraged our members to respond directly to you expressing their concerns and answering your questions, where possible. We have also contributed to the NFU/UKIA response as part of the Water for Food Group, which we fully support.

British Growing is a significant part of the overall food manufacturing sector, producing fresh food crops across the UK. The sector employs over 100,000 full time and seasonal workers across all the disciplines needed to produce high quality produce. British Horticulture contributes over £3bn to the nation's GDP. UK is over 40% self-sufficient in indigenous Fruit supply and this is increasing. However the nation is less than 60% self-sufficient in Vegetable & Salads supply and this is declining.

The industry is highly capital intensive, scientifically progressive, technically advanced and environmentally responsible. Food security of supply (self-sufficiency) matters because UK population is rapidly increasing towards 70m people.

It is absolutely vital that we continue to develop our food production in the UK and water plays an extremely important part in the production cycle from crop irrigation to the preparation of food ready to help feed our growing population. Therefore whatever system is put in place it must be fair and equitable as well as making sure that this vital production is not undermined either by restriction of supply or prohibitive costs.