Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Water White Paper Inquiry

Following on from the earlier Natural Environment White Paper, FDF considers that the White Paper correctly argues the need to protect our rivers and lakes as fully functioning ecosystems as a key principle underpinning the action needed now to tackle pollution and over abstraction.

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January 2012

The Paper is also correct to point out that left unchecked this issue is likely to get worse with the combined effects of climate change and population growth. However when identifying future demand pressures on the water supply system the White Paper fails to acknowledge the implications of addressing the challenges set out in the Government's Foresight report on 'The Future of Food and Farming' published last year.

This stated very clearly that changes in the UK (along with the global) food and farming system will be needed in order that it can produce more and with less impact in order to meet the twin challenges of future food security and climate change. This will have consequences for the food and farming sector's future water needs and which suggests that some kind of priority use hierarchy (with a bias towards uses that are of national importance) in situations of water scarcity should be considered as part of a reformed abstraction system.

Without some form of strategic prioritisation there is a risk that discretionary uses, such as irrigation for golf courses, take precedence over activities such as food production simply on a basis of ability to pay.

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Last reviewed: 28 Jan 2014