MAY 15, 2008: The Environment Agency may reform irrigation rules to allow farmers to take advantageof climate change and abstract more water during wetter summer months.

Licences governing water abstraction currently fall into three broad categories: abstraction that is allowed all year round, only during winter (from November to March) and only during the summer (from April to October).Although summer licences are restrictive and expensive, a series of wet summers has prompted Environment Agency officials to believe that the system should be reformed to account for periods of high flow and low flow of water.”The licensing system currently refers to seasonal abstraction,” said Andy Turner, the agency’s water resources strategy manager. “I would like to approach it differently – allowing summer abstraction under strict conditions if water flow is high enough.”Many parts of the country were water-stressed and over-abstracted, said Mr Turner during a presentation to a UK Irrigation Association seminar in Peterborough. A more efficient use of existing resources was vital.

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