Water wars: Why farmers are resistant to the EA’s abstraction plans

Proposals to allow the Environment Agency (EA) to vary or revoke abstraction licences that are causing environmental damage have pitted environmental campaigners against the food and farming sector.

Currently, the EA runs the risk of becoming liable for compensation if it changes abstraction licences which are causing harm. Environmental groups, individuals and local government believe that the regulator should be able to protect the environment from damage, or potential damage, without paying compensation, arguing that it would not be fair to pay abstractors that are damaging rivers. 

The food and farming sector however argued that it would not be fair to change the licences without compensation for businesses whose growth and land values could be damaged as a result. 

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