Why we need water management plans in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire
PUBLISHED: 11:53 18 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:55 18 July 2014
Alexander Boswell, Chairman of CLA Buckinghamshire Branch, explains why we need water management plans
As flooding in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire finally recedes, believe it or not many farmers may soon be worrying about low summer water levels or even drought. Saturated land can dry out very quickly, and inundation can fast become drought.
I have great sympathy for anyone affected by the terrible flooding earlier this year. Climate change will certainly lead to more deluges and action must be taken to ensure that our towns, villages and countryside are protected. The impacts of flooding on farming and horticulture – and therefore on food production – are severe. Crops can be damaged or lost, and livestock farmers are unable to use submerged pastures.
For farmers, however, drought is just as great a threat. If farmers are not able to use water where and when it is needed, to irrigate crops for example, it will be very difficult to provide the produce needed for our supermarket shelves.
Action to prevent floods must go hand in hand with planning for times of drought. Water management plans must ensure that the UK begins conserving water in times of excess for the times of need. How can these water management plans be created and delivered? Reliable supplies of water will only be achieved when central and local government work closely with landowners and farmers.
Landowners should be encouraged to conserve water on their land – for example, by building a reservoir. This can be a very expensive development for the landowner and often requires a lengthy planning process, but can help conserve water while also helping to prevent floods. Like many others across Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, I hope our counties enjoy a long respite from severe flooding. The sooner that water management plans are put in place to help prevent flooding and also ensure a safe and constant water supply for food production, the better for town and countryside alike.