Restore tax breaks for farm reservoirs, says NFU

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
2:29 PM

Tax incentives to build winter storage reservoirs to tackle the drought should be restored, farmers said yesterday.

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It was “crazy” that the previous government scrapped tax breaks for farmers, who wanted to harvest surplus water to irrigate crops in period of drought, said Peter Kendall.

Speaking after the south-east had been officially declared to be in drought, he warned that a shortage of water for irrigation could push up food prices.

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said drought-afflicted areas need 120pc of the normal rainfall up to the end of March and said that more water storage, including on farms, would help make the most of what rainfall the UK receives.

Mr Kendall, president of the National Farmers’ Union, said: “We all agree that water storage in water-stressed areas is a no-brainer – just look at the current drought situation. But in terms of policy signals that match your and Defra’s call, what’s coming out from the Treasury on farm reservoirs is woeful.

“Businesses used to be eligible for tax relief if they built reservoirs. They no longer are.

“What kind of message does that really send to a vegetable producer who’s got to reduce his summer abstraction?’’

Mrs Spelman said she had signalled to the Treasury the importance of on-farm water supplies and that the government’s water White Paper encouraged the use of reservoirs on farms.

“Water capture and storage is the key to building resilience, not just for agriculture, for everyone in the country,” she added.

He said the government was talking to farmers early on in the current drought, adding: “We’re hoping we are going to get more reasonable prioritising of resources.’’

michael.pollitt@archant.co.uk

COMMENT – Main paper Page 20

1 comment

  • 'who wanted to harvest surplus water to irrigate crops in period of drought' Harvesting Surface water from their roofs and barn roofs, yes, siphoning water from local rivers on the other hand not 'harvesting', nor is the use of boreholes. Ms. Spelmann is also using these drought conditions to once again push at the door of genetically engineered foods, using the long standing water mismanagment as an excuse to open the door to patent food and more calamity for farmers.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

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