Supplementary Memorandum by R & JM
Place Ltd (DWB 16(a))
I have plucked up courage to write to you again,
subsequent to your hearing on 6 February especially as we have
become concerned over the views expressed by the Environment Agency
Dr George Mance and his colleagues that they were not in favour
of an amnesty for exempt trickle irrigators. We believe that the
Environment Agency gave the impression in their replies (QQ 249-251)
that many exempt trickle irrigators derogated existing sources
or caused environmental damagehe gave an example of a river
being sucked dry.
We do not believe that this is the case where
exempt abstraction has taken place from boreholes.
I omitted to tell the Committee that, in our
case, I specifically asked Mr Hockaday, the Licensing Officer
of Environment Agency, at a meeting at Newmarket on 9 September
1997, if our exempt trickle borehole irrigation was causing problems
and he said "No" and again he said that he expected
existing exempt abstractors to be granted grandfather rights,
as happened under the previous 1963 and 1991 Water Resource Acts,
if exempt trickle irrigation was ever brought by Parliament under
Mr Hockaday mentioned that he knew only of one
problem with exempt trickle abstraction, which was in Essex.
We believe that where exempt abstractors have
sent details of their abstractions to the Environment Agency and
where the Agency have known about these abstractions, then the
Agency had the opportunity and, we believe, a duty to inform the
exempt trickle abstractor of any derogation of existing sources
or any environmental damage being caused. If they did not do this,
then surely they should have done so.
We believe that the way forward would be for
you to suggest that a licence should be given in the case of borehole
1. Where the abstractor was an established
exempt trickle abstractor, prior to April 1999, the date of the
publication of Taking Water Responsibly by DETR.
2. Where the abstractor had sent details
of annual usage to the Agency each year and
3. Where there had been no formal notification
to the abstractor by the Agency (or written claim by another licensed
abstractor) before April 1999 (the date of the Publication of
Taking Water Responsibly) that the abstractor was harming existing
licensed abstraction sources or causing damage to the environment.
Subject to this, we suggest that the legislation
should include a paragraph that existing users of trickle irrigation
should be treated as if they already had a licence and it should
be up to the Environment Agency to show in the 2004 Review if
any environmental damage was being caused.
We hope that you will be able to consider this
suggestion. We very much appreciated being called on 6 February
to give evidence to you.