WSBF Roundtable: MP leads debate on the role of water as a 'public good'

This week, Alex Davies-Jones MP (pictured) chaired an online roundtable to discuss the role of water as a 'public good' and how farmers and land managers can be incentivised to take actions that benefit the environment.

The Agriculture Bill, currently making its way through Parliament will see transition from the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) to a new system of 'public money for public goods'.  Under these arrangements, the Basic Payment Scheme will be replaced with a system that rewards land managers for environmental gain such as tree planting, flood management, and habitat restoration.The discussion included contributions from the following expert speakers:

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering highlighted the benefits of using Natural Flood Management techniques to 'slow the flow' of water in the upper catchment and discussed lessons from implementation of such a scheme in Pickering.

Gordon Rogers, head of sustainability at Yorkshire Water explained how Yorkshire Water use a 'six capitals' approach to underpin their commercial decision making, which values natural capital on an equal footing to other facets of the business such as finance, staffing, and intellectual property.

Dr. Andrea Graham, head of policy services at the National Farmers' Union stressed the importance of adopting a combined approach to water resource management and climate change.  Andrea highlighted that relying on food imports can pass problems on to other parts of the world, which may face greater challenges associated with water demand.

Daniel Johns, head of public affairs at Anglian Water spoke about Water UK's recent public interest commitment and how Anglian Water have built on this to enshrine what it means to operate in the public interest into their company articles of association. 

The WSBF will use the outputs from this discussion to contribute to the Agriculture Bill as it moves through the Lords and to support associated forthcoming legislation.


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