Defra publishes Plan for Water and funding updates

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Funding to manage slurry storage and the storage and efficient use of water is a key part of a new Plan for Water published by the government today.

Nearly £34 million will be made available through the first round of the Slurry Infrastructure Grant which is more than two-and-a-half times the original budget. Guidance and applications for the second round of the Water Management Grant will open later this month and will offer £10m in funding to help water management through better irrigation and more on-farm reservoirs.

Plan for Water

The government’s plan covers the quality of the water cleanliness and the quantity of water resources. The aim of the plan is for every source of pollution to be tackled, including storm overflows, agriculture, plastics, road run-off, chemicals and pesticides, as well as the pressures on supplies following hotter, drier summers and population growth.

The funding provided doubles the amount allocated to give free advice to farmers across the country through the Catchment Sensitive Farming scheme and it also accelerates the rollout of the Sustainable Farming Incentive.

Farming minister, Mark Spencer, said: “Communities across the country want to see clean and plentiful water in our rivers and streams, and farmers have a huge role in helping to deliver this.

“We know that farmers want to do the right thing, which is why – as part of today’s Plan for Water – we’re providing even more funding for farmers both to reduce their water pollution from slurry and better manage the water on their farms.”

Funding for slurry storage

With around 50% of slurry stores in England not fit for purpose, the grant will award farmers between £25,000 and £250,000 to build, replace or expand storage and can contribute towards a range of solutions like lagoons, steel and concrete ring tanks and large slurry bags.

More than 1,200 applications were received for the first round of the grant. Defra says it will need to balance the high demand for grants with the capacity of slurry store suppliers to increase production.

374 projects have been invited to submit a full application for a share of £33.9 million in funding – up from £13.2 million when the grant was first announced last year. This is based on an assessment of what the market could handle.

Water management grant 

The second round of the Water Management Grant will see £10 million in funding made available for farmers to improve farm productivity through more efficient use of water for irrigation, and to secure water supplies for crop irrigation by constructing on-farm reservoirs and adopting best practice irrigation application equipment.

Grants will be available for between £35,000 and £500,000, which will ensure that funding supports farms of all sizes while committing to supporting higher value projects which align with the fund’s objectives.

The grant will be open later in April with an online checker available to help farmers determine their eligibility and likelihood of success.

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