HC Deb 18 June 2002 vol 387 cc215-6W
Mrs. Helen Clark

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will examine the case for the protection of trickle irrigation in consultations on the draft water Bill; and if she will make it her policy t at trickle irrigators are(a) granted time-limited licences equivalent to their current abstraction and (b) equally treated with other abstractors when licences are reviewed under the Environment Agency's Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy. [60680]

Mr. Meacher

I have examined the case for the protection of trickle irrigation before issuing the Government's response to the consultation on the water Bill. There will be a two-year transitional period during which trickle abstractors can apply for abstraction licences. During this time the Environment Agency will be required to ensure that there is no derogation of their abstractions.

The Department is drawing up transitional provisions aiming to ensure that established use of trickle irrigation is not disadvantaged compared to other licensed abstractions for agricultural or horticultural purposes. In doing so, I shall consider whether present trickle irrigators should be automatically granted time limited licences equivalent to their current abstraction when the exemption is removed, to enable trickle licences to be reviewed on a par with other abstractions as part of the Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy (CAMS) process.

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