Town’s farmers escape blanket hosepipe ban

A HOSEPIPE ban will be imposed on domestic users prior to the Easter weekend, it was announced this week.

Thames Water is one of seven companies in the south east to announce restrictions after two abnormally dry winters.

The ban will come into effect from April 5, but crucially will not affect Thame’s farming community.

Martin Baggs, chief executive of Thames Water, said: “We know these restrictions will be unpopular but they will save a lot of water. A garden sprinkler uses as much water in an hour as a family of four uses in a day.”

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has urged farmers to think carefully about water usage, but a spokesman from the National Farmers Union says they are not included in the temporary ban.

Thame dairy farmer Richard Gurney is pleased the hosepipe ban will not apply to his business. He already uses environmentally-friendly practises on his 450-acre farm to try and cut water wastage.

He uses recycled water to wash down the parlour twice a day, although for hygiene reasons he has to use mains water to circulate the pipes which carry the milk from the cows to the bulk tank.

Mr Gurney has 160 Holstein dairy milking cows who each drink 100 litres of water a day.

He said: “They are giving 50 to 60 litres of milk a day and so that needs to be replenished. I also have young stock and beef cattle requiring drinking water.

“We are lucky that we have one and a half miles of the River Thame running through our land, so the cows can drink from that and we don’t have to continually draw from the mains water. But there will be other farmers who will suffer if the drought continues.”

Aylesbury NFU group secretary Virginia Stollery, who also covers Thame, said: “Irrigation of crops is the practice which uses up most water, and that is unlikely to happen around here because this is a livestock and cereals area.

“I’ve heard of straw being exported from England to the continent before now, but perhaps if this drought continues we’ll see the necessity for hay and silage being imported here.”