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News Report Page 4 of 34
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Have you spotted Helicopters landing just outside Hightown?
Photographs by Patrick Trollope.

NO, we are not talking about Altcar Training Camp, Buzz Flight have been running a few pleasure flights, that last around 5 minutes. The flights take off from a field near Ince Blundell, offering what operators Buzz Flight says is an:- "exhilarating, lifetime experience." The helicopter we photographed is a Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II. Have you been on this 6 mile round trip? We would love to know what your experience was like and did you know this takes place near the Formby Bypass? Please do email us to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com and let us know.

CLA reacts to Defra's response after consulting on water management

THE CLA submitted a response to the Defra consultation in early 2019, looking at improving the management of water within the environment. Defra has now published their own answers, indicating whether they intend to go ahead with the proposals. The CLA had hoped that the consultation would lead to a more holistic and collaborative approach to water management, where water for food production has equal status to public supply.

The CLA has always been very supportive of local Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) and argued that they are often the best placed groups locally to manage water levels and reduce flood risk. In the CLA submission to Defra, the CLA supported the government proposal to look at a new funding methodology to make it easier for new IDBs to be formed where needed, and existing ones expanded.

The Defra response made it clear that this very likely to be going ahead, which is welcome news for many farmers particularly for those in the North where there is a huge need. CLA North Rural Surveyor, Robert Frewen, said:- "We have been working very closely with the farming community in the North West to re-establish the IDBs that were abolished there in the 1970s, so this is a very welcome result on the back of years of lobbying by the CLA. We are always looking for constructive and workable solutions to address risks associated with poor drainage, and we will continue to work with the Environment Agency to support and promote existing IDBs, or to set up a workable Internal Drainage Boards where required. Elsewhere in the country established Internal Drainage Boards are working very well, and better than expected. Drainage and water level management is vitally important to ensure agricultural land remain fertile, whilst also reducing the risk of flooding, particularly in East Yorkshire where we've been working with partner organisations on the Humberside Flood Risk Management Strategy."

As part of the consultation, Defra also proposed that the Environment Agency should be able to remove or change some permanent abstraction licences without compensation, if the licence is unused, under used or has the potential to cause environmental damage.  The CLA vociferously opposed this approach as abstraction licences are considered business assets that add value to their land, allow for diversification and in future will help farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change. They added that:- "It is therefore disappointing that Defra will be going ahead with their proposal to remove abstraction licences without compensation in certain circumstances."

While the CLA supports sustainable abstraction, it is important that farmers and landowners are properly compensated should these licences be changed or revoked.  the CLA said:- "It's heartening that Defra has listened to other CLA suggestions on this proposal, including that historic under use should be looked at over a period of at least 10 years, that each licence should be looked at on a case by case basis, giving consideration to future business potential, and that the removal of an abstraction licence will be a last resort. However, the CLA will continue to argue that licence holders should be entitled to compensation to recognise the loss of property rights."

In its submission, the CLA suggested other measures to increase sustainable abstraction. These included:-

Local water trading.

A better planning process for on farm reservoirs and incentives for winter storage.

The CLA considers it a major win in that the UK Government made it clear after the consultation that water trading and flexible abstraction will be encouraged, and there will be grants for farmers to invest in things like on farm reservoirs, and that any changes to abstraction licences will be done on a case by case basis, taking into account all aspects of a farm business.

CLA Land Use Policy Adviser, Alice Ritchie, said:- "The CLA is extremely supportive of sustainable abstraction and we will continue to work with farmers and landowners, as well as lobby on their behalf to ensure they have access to a secure water supply when needed. With climate change and a growing population, water resources will be increasingly important for food production and it is good to know that the government listened to our concerns and is looking at proposals to increase water trading, flexible abstraction and water storage solutions. We will continue to work with Government to find workable solutions for sustainable abstraction."

Does this affect you or anyone you know?  Please do let us know your thoughts on this issue via emailing us to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com...

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