Norfolk farmer loses abstraction appeal

A farmer from Norfolk has lost his appeal against the Environment Agency’s refusal to renew two abstraction licences.

Andrew Alston, who farms near Catfield in the Norfolk Broads has abstracted water to irrigate crops since 1986, but his most recent applications to abstract maximum volumes of 68,000 cu. m and 22,700 cu. m from two boreholes were refused after the RSPB and Butterfly Conservation said that abstraction was changing the pH of the local water, threatening rare wildlife including the fen orchid.

Mr Alston appealed the decision, saying it was not clear beyond reasonable doubt that continued abstraction would adversely affect the areas. However an inspector appointed by the environment secretary dismissed the appeal following a public inquiry.

NFU national water resources specialist Paul Hammett said: “This is disappointing news for local farmers and for irrigated crop production in the immediate vicinity around Catfield Fen. It’s important to remember that many of the issues raised during the public inquiry were site-specific. This means that wider implications of this decision are likely to be extremely limited.”


Photo Caption: The RSPB said water abstraction was damaging Catfield fen

Photo Credit: RSPB

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