Following a period of prolonged dry weather over the summer, we returned to normal conditions in September 2018. Therefore, we currently have no dry weather concerns. However, our advice for agriculture below will remain available on our website your information. If we experience prolonged dry weather again, we will provide further updates accordingly.
To protect the environment, we can reduce or stop spray irrigation under section 57 of the Water Resources Act 1991. This section explains more about the restriction. An external briefing note is available.
This means we can serve a notice on abstraction licence holders for spray irrigation reducing the quantity of water that can be abstracted or stopping abstraction all together, for the period specified in the notice. Where there is more than one licence holder for spray irrigation abstracting from the same source of supply, we must treat them equally.
We will always see these restrictions as a last resort for restricting this sector and will work with abstractors (not just spray irrigators) to explore the benefit of voluntary restrictions to avoid or delay the use of section 57 restrictions. If your licence includes 'hands off flow' conditions, then it is likely these would already be operating before we introduced a section 57 restriction.
We cannot serve a notice restricting abstractions from groundwater for spray irrigation unless the abstraction is likely to affect the flow, level or volume of nearby inland waters such as a river or stream.
Would all irrigators be affected?
No, the following abstractors will be among those excluded:
- previously exempt abstraction currently within licence application window eg trickle irrigation
- irrigation using water collected in winter storage reservoirs
- water used to supply pot grown plants which are unable to take moisture from the soil
- irrigation of covered crops (in glasshouses or polytunnels)
If your licence allows you to spray irrigate and use water for another purpose, such as vegetable washing, the section 57 restriction would only apply to your spray irrigation abstraction.
Further information on exemptions can be viewed at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/1096/made
Our dry weather advice to farmers
We have received reports from across Wales, either directly or through third parties, such as Local Resilience Forums or Farmers Unions, that the prolonged dry weather period is causing concern about a number of agricultural issues. In particular, reports of:
- Private water supplies drying up and farmers being unable to provide enough water to meet their livestock needs due to no alternative water source
- Livestock forage shortage
Following the Dry Weather Summit attended by Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, planning and Rural Affairs, at the Royal Welsh Show, we have produced our dry weather advice to farmers that focuses on the following:
- Abstraction of Water
- Alternative Sources Available Across Wales
- Licence Variations
- Section 57 Spray Irrigation Restrictions
- Sustainable Land Management
- Alternative Sources of Animal Bedding
- Avoiding Agricultural Pollution in Hot Weather
For further information on these topics, please refer to our advice document.