To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on allowing farmers with reservoirs to recharge them during periods of heavy rainfall outside of the recharge season.
The result of two dry winters in 2010-11 and 2011-12 has prevented many farmers from filling their reservoirs. The Environment Agency recognised the difficulties farmers would face this summer, and gave them the opportunity to temporarily fill reservoirs outside the normal abstraction period and apply to take summer high flows at a reduced rate.
Heavy rain coincided with the Environment Agency's flexibility, and the majority of farm reservoirs are now full. A small number of farmers have applied to permanently extend their abstraction period and take high flows in summer.
The Environment Agency is encouraging farmers to review their licences now and make this ‘water security check' a regular feature of their business planning. Those that do could be in a much stronger position during future dry periods.