Water Industry News

Slurry Infrastructure Grant Launched For Farmers

The government has launched a new slurry infrastructure grant for farmers to help them improve slurry storage management to help reduce the amount of pollution being washed from fields into waterways when it rains, as well as helping them to store and use water more efficiently.


The move forms a key part of the new Plan for Water, which was published at the start of the month (April) and aims to transform the entire water system, tackling all sources of pollution and the pressures being put on water supplies as a result of increasing temperatures and population growth.


Almost £34 million will be made available through the first round of this grant, as part of the government’s £2.4 billion annual investment in the farming sector for the remainder of this parliament.


Slurry storage


One of the most important steps that farmers can take to help protect the natural environment is to invest in good slurry management.


Around half of England’s slurry stores are currently not fit for purpose, but this grant will provide those in the farming industry with between £25,000 and £250,000 to expand, replace or build new storage solutions, as well as contributing towards the likes of large slurry bags, steel and concrete ring tanks and lagoons.


Defra is keen to see as many farms as possible carry out upgrades of this kind, but – given that over 1,200 applications were sent in for the first round of the grant – it is important to balance the evidently high demand for funding with the capacity for slurry store suppliers to ramp up production.


In all, 374 projects have thus far been invited to apply for a share of £33.9 million in funding, based on an assessment of what the market could potentially handle and what types of store farmers have put applications in for.


The water management grant


In addition, the second round of the water management grant will see a further £10 million in funding provided to help improve farm productivity by making irrigation more efficient to help protect water resources and secure supplies for crop irrigation.


This will be achieved through the construction of on-farm reservoirs and ensuring that farmers adopt best practice irrigation application equipment.


The grant will be open later this month, with an online checker tool available so that farmers can check their eligibility and determine their chances of success in their applications.

Grants of between £35,000 and £500,000 will be available, ensuring that farms of all sizes can take advantage of the funding, while supporting higher value projects to further the fund’s overall objectives.


Commenting on the news, Mark Spencer – farming minister – 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.”


The Plan For Water


The government’s newly announced Plan for Water covers both how clean our water environment is and how much water we actually have, bringing together the action that has already been taken with stronger regulation and enforcement, and more investment.


Every source of pollution will be addressed in the plan, including plastics, agriculture, storm overflows, chemicals and road runoff, as well as the pressures being put on resources as a result of population growth and the hotter, drier summers that we can expect to see in the future.


A commitment is included in the plan to consult on a ban on the use of plastic in wet wipes to help tackle the presence of plastic in waterways around the country. A public consultation will be carried out on the matter, with work underway to ensure that plastic-free alternatives are readily available.


Furthermore, £1.6 billion will be made available to help water companies to accelerate their infrastructure upgrades between now and 2025. And a new Water Restoration Fund has been set up so that fines from water firms will be reinvested, ensuring that polluters pay for the damage they cause to the natural environment.


This fund will be used to drive through on-the-ground improvements to water quality, while supporting community-led schemes and local groups to help protect the nation’s streams, rivers and lakes.


Environment secretary Therese Coffey said: “Our rare chalk streams and world-famous coastlines, lakes and rivers are hugely important to local communities and to nature.


“I completely understand the concerns that people have about the health and resilience of our waters, which is why I am setting out this plan for a truly national effort to protect and improve them. That includes higher penalties taken from water company profits which will be channelled back into the rivers, lakes and streams where it is needed.”


Other government action now being taken includes delivering long-term catchment plans, supported by new funding, to improve all of England’s water bodies, as well as the credit scheme recently launched by Natural England to offset the environmental impact caused by new housing developments.


Additionally, £1 million investment in partnership projects will be leveraged each year to improve chalk catchments to help protect these rare habitats. And a £6.6 million Lowland Peat Research and Development programme will be launched this year to identify the most effective ways of reducing emissions from lowland peatlands.


Finally, new proposals will be developed to restrict the use of forever chemicals in rivers and seas, including proposals for a ban on these substances in firefighting foams.


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