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5 April 2012, Garden and landscape industry raise drought concerns with Shadow Minister for Water

Garden and landscape industry representatives met with Gavin Shuker MP, Shadow Minister for Water yesterday (4 April) and broadcast media, to highlight concerns about the drought for gardeners, landscaping and turf businesses.

The meeting came in advance of the temporary water restrictions (hosepipe bans) that have been introduced by seven water companies today (Anglian, South East Water, Southern, Sutton and East Surrey, Thames, Veolia Central and Veolia South East).
 
Gavin Shuker MP, Labour’s Shadow Water Minister, said: “The hosepipe ban and water restrictions are further bad news for households worried about the weather. We have seen the driest twelve months on record and drought conditions will become more common in future. Lack of water could mean food prices go up, wildlife will suffer and, in the worst case, construction and energy industries affected. The Government needs to stop dragging its feet and legislate for the long awaited reforms we need."

The Shadow Minister visited Aylett Nurseries in St Albans where Director, Adam Wigglesworth, explained the impact on gardeners. Adam comments, “We are providing our customers with advice as to how they can garden in a water-efficient and environmentally friendly way. It is a major step forward that gardeners are able to use drip irrigation, rather than the blanket hosepipe bans of the past, and there are numerous other water efficient products available that will help the nation keep gardening.”
 
The Shadow Minister also spoke with the Chairman of the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL), Mark Gregory, who spoke about the very real concerns for landscaping businesses which are not currently exempt from the ban. Gregory said, “The landscaping industry, which employs more people than agriculture, is being unfairly penalised by this ban and is set to be severely impacted as a result. Why is it that car washes can continue to operate and cement mixers can be filled by a hosepipe but landscapers cannot use hosepipes in their work? Somewhat ironic given that plants and turf help to retain moisture in our landscapes.”
 
This is a view echoed by Hugh Dampney, Chair of the Turfgrass Growers Association (TGA), who is encouraging the water companies to follow the lead of Sutton and East Surrey Water Company who are allowing a 28 day exemption for newly laid turf. He comments, “The water industry’s own Code of Practice on water restrictions suggests concessions for newly laid turf and plants. It is down to the water companies to follow this through so that the turf industry can continue to operate. Turf makes a major net contribution to water supplies and aids water retention by allowing the percolation of rain through the soil to replenish the aquifers.”
 
The HTA, BALI and TGA will meet with water companies on Tuesday 10 April to discuss what measures can be taken to mitigate the negative impacts of hosepipe bans for the landscape industry.
 
TV coverage from BBC Look East and ITV Anglia, of the Shadow Minister’s visit to Aylett Nurseries with Adam Wigglesworth, Mark Gregory and Hugh Dampney, can be viewed at:
 
BBC Look East 4/4: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01f8bcc/Look_East_East_04_04_2012/
 
ITV Anglia Tonight 4/4: http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/2012-04-04/watch-wednesdays-anglia-tonight/