NFU warns grant scheme to boost farm reservoirs could be barred in key locations

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has welcomed a recently launched £200million Defra grant package for farm reservoirs and forestry equipment while warning it could be unavailable where it is most needed.

NFU water resources specialist, Paul Hammett, said the new funding could help to kick start a much-needed reservoir building programme. But he said he was disappointed that applications were ineligible where reservoirs will be used to increase production and when they are sited in a water body which is failing to meet “good status” as defined by the EU Water Framework Directive. He said this would bar farmers in our most water-stressed areas from the scheme.

“We think that all growers who want to capture and store high river flow water should be encouraged to do so, not just those in certain areas, and we will continue to make this case to Defra”, said Hammett.

Under the water resource management grant scheme, applicants can seek funding for the construction of reservoirs, pumps, controls, underground mains, metering, and equipment and software to improve best practice and increase efficiency. Grants are for a minimum of £35,000 and can cover up to 40% of a project. The scheme is part of Defra's Rural Development Programme (RDP).