Defra has announced new measures that will see more funding for farmers to improve their slurry storage, with nearly £34mil available through the first round of the Slurry Infrastructure Grant - more than double the original budget following very high demand from farmers. This is part of a new integrated plan with the aim of improving water quality for people, businesses and nature.
Also outlined in the update is the second round of the Water Management Grant, which will open for applications in Mid-April. It will provide £10mil in funding to help farmers manage their water use through more efficient irrigation and securing water supplies through the construction of on-farm reservoirs.
The integrated plan is said to focus on the quality of the water environment - both how clean a source is, and how much water it contains. Within this, it aims to tackle every source of pollution, including from storm overflows, agriculture, plastics, road run-off, chemicals and pesticides.
In response, CLA President Mark Tufnell said:
“Within a generation, farmers face the risk of severe water shortages. It’s encouraging, therefore, that government has listened to our members and outlined plans to align reservoir grants to planning and license approvals, which will build much-needed resilience for our food supplies.
The creation of a water restoration fund will also be welcomed, for instilling accountability and allowing for more funding. However, many of the initiatives outlined by government have been repackaged from previous announcements, at a time when farmers are struggling with new weather extremes
“The Country Land and Business Association has outlined a forward-looking position on water quality with our 2030 vision, and we will continue to collaborate closely with government to identify and deliver the bold action required.”