Farmers warned of water cutbacks if Suffolk drought does not end soon

Farmers in Suffolk have been warned they could face limits on the amount of water they use if the current drought continues.

Even with today's rainfall, the Environment Agency has written to farmers warning of abstraction restrictions for rivers, including the Waveney.

Last month East Anglia received the least rainfall in the country, with only 47pc of its monthly total.

Land owners across the region said news that water could be restricted was not unexpected, but it would make life much harder.

John Collen, who sits on the crops board of the National Farmers Union (NFU) and farms at Gisleham, near Lowestoft, said: 'We had hoped this could be avoided, that we would be able to get some concessions on what we were allowed to abstract. The spring crop are an absolute disaster anyway, without water they will just become nothing. It could have dire consequences.

'Even if it rains every day from now on it will still be worse because this year it has started so early.'

Stephen Rash, Suffolk council delegate for the NFU, has the Waveney River running through his farm at Wortham, near Diss.

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'It's not unexpected but restrictions will obviously make life extremely difficult to maintain quality of production - especially for those with vegetables and potatoes who need irrigation,' he said. 'People need food but people also need water to drink, it's about getting that balance.'

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said the intense dry spell had caused river levels to drop and demand for irrigation water had been high.

'We have recently written to farmers in specific river catchments across Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk to give them an early warning that if the situation does not improve we may have to impose formal restrictions on abstraction for spray irrigation at the end of June,' she said

'We have also asked them to make voluntary reductions in their water use to try and delay the need for formal restrictions.

'We will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with farmers to asses their needs and help them lessen any potential impact on their businesses.'

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