The government’s Plan for Water aims to help farmers to manage slurry storage and to use water more efficiently. By making £34 million available for the first round of the Slurry Infrastructure Grant, the government hopes to see less river pollution from slurry washing off the land into waterways and more reservoirs and improved irrigation to mitigate the challenges of climate change,
A second round of grants will be made available later this year, with guidance to the grants being published later this month. This will provide a further £10 million for irrigation improvement and on-farm reservoir building.
The ambition for the Plan for Water is vast: through it, the government is aiming to improve the quality of our waterways and well as assessing how much water we have. The plan covers all types of pollution, from storm overflows, agriculture, plastics, road run-off and chemicals.
In practical terms, the grants will provide farmers with between £25,000-£250,000 to build, replace or extend slurry management facilities, and can contribute towards lagoons, steel and concrete ring tanks and large slurry bags.
The second round of grants will address the efficient use of water on-farm by helping with the costs of building reservoirs and adopting best practice irrigation equipment. These grants will be worth between £35,000 and £500,000.
The grants are time-limited, with no plans for further grants after 2024.
The government’s grants have been welcomed by the National Farmers Union. NFU Vice President David Exwood says: ‘With the ever-increasing pressure on businesses from financial challenges, regulatory demands and focused inspections, there has never been a more vital opportunity to lay bare the demand for government support.
Grant funding offers the opportunity to make improvements, but we must demonstrate that the demand for funding is there to deliver public goods in exchange for public money. Therefore, applications that demonstrate the intention to make improvements to slurry storage are still encouraged.’
The NFU has provided information and guidance for anyone considering applying for the grant: